6 Things to Know Before Starting Infertility Treatments
Struggling to conceive is relatively common and IVF can help, but has its own truths.
When my husband and I turned to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for conception help, we were very hopeful. Because of our health history, we’d been told that it was nearly impossible to conceive naturally, so reproductive assistance gave us options that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
We embarked on a journey we thought would be relatively manageable, but the process quickly took over our lives, both physically and emotionally. Then, after an egg retrieval procedure led to severe internal bleeding, I learned first-hand about the IVF risks that many doctors don’t disclose. Some friends and family members didn’t know how to react, and their advice to just relax and look on the bright-side wasn’t comforting.
The road to conception challenged us in many unexpected ways, and I wrote about our experiences in my new memoir. When I share my story, so many people confide in me about their own infertility struggles. In fact, one in every eight couples has trouble getting pregnant, and with National Infertility Awareness Week coming up April 23 - 29, it’s important to educate yourself so that you can be prepared for the process or best support those who are going through it. Here are six tips:
The quality of care and clinics varies widely.
Do your research thoroughly and get second and third opinions before choosing a provider.
Treatment is as time-consuming as a part-time job. Between blood draws, ultrasounds, injections, appointments, phone calls, and follow-ups, the process will take over a big chunk of your schedule. Be prepared to manage conflicts at work and at home.
Talking about treatments is hard, but not talking can be harder. It can be difficult to tell family, friends, and colleagues about infertility treatments for fear that they’ll pry or give unsolicited advice. But the alternative—not telling anyone—can be incredibly isolating. Choose a select few to share with, and let them know in advance how best to support you when you do share. Tell them to listen, hug, and repeat.
There’s no way to control the process. No matter what you do—from drinking pomegranate juice to splurging on acupuncture—in the end, you are not in control of the process or the outcome. This will be frustrating. Breathe.
Treatments may take a toll on your marriage. Few things put more stress on a relationship than infertility and treatments. Equal involvement is key. Ask your husband or wife to be with you during injections or discussion with the nurses. Seek counseling together throughout the process.
There are no guarantees. Most doctors tell patients to be prepared for at least three cycles to better their odds, but this will not guarantee pregnancy. Think of the process as a marathon that relies on your endurance.
Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of "Of This Much I’m Sure," a memoir about her IVF challenges and the healing power of hope. Her work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, The Month, PANK, and various anthologies, including The Magic of Memoir. Nadine, who received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago, teaches English at Loyola University and doubles as a writing coach, presenting at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family.