So, we have already defined IVF as the external fertilisation of a woman’s eggs with the male partner’s sperm. In this section, I donât want to dwell too much on definitions. Rather I would like to talk you through the process as best as I can, in ways that will connect to the reader, from the standpoint of someone who has experienced this first-hand.
Before embarking on the IVF journey, it is important to tick the following boxes:
You are sure it is the right option for you: Some would advice exhausting all other options first, whilst others would advice you go straight for it and not wait a second longer than you ought to. Whichever the case, you need to have arrived at that place where you are certain it is the right option for you. There is no point feeling coerced into it. If you are not mentally bought into the idea, it might be best to wait until you are.
You are physically ready for it: This means you have undergone the required testing, i.e. HIV, Hepatitis, hormonal tests, etc. For me, the most important of these tests would be to test ovarian function, as this is critical in determining the medication dosage, so as to avoid overstimulation. Another important test would be the HSG, or hysterosalpingogram test, to test for hydrosalpinx (i.e. fluid in the fallopian tubes). These fluids can make the uterus hostile to any implanted embryo. In cases of hydrosalpinx, it is often best to remove the tubes altogether. Lastly, it is important to understand the male partnerâs sperm situation. This is to determine if the couple will opt for straight IVF, ICSI, or even if the male partner has to undergo surgery to harvest sperm.
You are financially ready: This goes without saying. IVF is not a cheap adventure. Before a couple decides this is the best option for them, they need to be sure that they can afford the procedure, from start to finish. I would even go as far as saying it is best to have funds for at least 2 cycles, so that if the 1st cycle fails, there will not be too much of a gap before the next cycle, or a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET). And even in the event of a successful cycle, the couple has to be sure there are enough funds to cover pregnancy related medical costs, childbirth, and child care.
You are emotionally ready: IVF is not for the faint hearted, I keep stressing that. The absolute first thing one needs to understand is that it is NOT FOOL PROOF. There are absolutely no guarantees! It could either work, or it could not. It is an incredible build up, starting sometimes 6 clear weeks before the actual procedure, and culminating in a pregnancy test that could end up positive, or negative. Even though one should not plan for failure, one must be prepared for it. Expectations need to be managed. Also, the drug administration process is an emotionally tasking one, involving self injecting, vaginal scans, etc. It is critical to be ready for about 2 to 6 weeks of shots, or even longer. If you are not sure you can scale this hurdle, it is perhaps best to wait until you can.