So humbled to address today one of the most difficult/emotional decisions a woman ever has to make. And this decision sadly affects lots of women – too many of us. And based on many researchers, it will only affect more of us in the very near years ahead. I had to make this decision twice and it was difficult both times.
The decision is this: Should I do an IVF?
The other related questions usually are:
Should I wait and do nothing and see what happens? (and for how long?)
Should I first try more natural ways to heal my body? (and for how long?)
Should I first save some money for the procedure?
Should I keep trying clomid and IUIs?
Should I find a new job at a company that covers IVF?
Should I wait until my relationship feels more solid or until my spouse is more involved?
Should I find a new doctor who will investigate my health more before recommending IVF?
Should I skip IVF altogether and research adoption?
Oh, the complexity.
In case you’re facing this decision, here my PROS and CONS and the same from 7 readers who have generously shared their thoughts:
-You get to see if it works! The curiosity is a hard one to pass up.
-Likely if IVF is on the table, one has already invested financially and emotionally in the medical route (tests, diagnosis, finding doctors, etc.) So IVF may feel like the easier next step. At that point, it feels like known territory in a way and it can feel like you should see those investments to the finish line.
-IVF is rampantly recommended by doctors. So very often, underlying health issues are not addressed and the procedure is more like throwing a dart to see if it will work for you. The problem is, if the underlying issue is not addressed, it’s very likely that IVF won’t work or the pregnancy will not be healthy.
-For me, IVF affected my hormones for an extended period after the IVF (the trailing off was close to a year, I’d say.) I normally have extremely stable cycles without PMS. Though I noticed a bit of it in the many months following the IVF. It was a sad thing to me to feel like I’d messed with my body so unnaturally.
-I mentioned once that I noticed some hair thinning and my curls have gone limp (compared to what they used to be). I noticed this happening after the IVFs and I later read that hormonal changes are one of the biggest causes of hair changes in women. There’s a very good chance it was all related.
-Adding so many drugs to your body is just gross. I did about two hundred injections in two IVF cycles (I did have extras compared to a standard cycle, though.) Yuck!
-There is a lot at stake. It leads to a lot of stress for people’s marriages and lives unless you go into it with a healthy mindset (if you want coaching on this, I offer mentoring sessions). IVF also greatly affects finances and can have a negative affect on your employment.
-You have to stay put for a very long time: doctors appointments galore; timed injections; refrigerated drugs. Travel for business or pleasure is pretty much out of the question. Don’t even think about moving or changing jobs/insurance while you have your team of doctors in place for however long it takes.
-Infertility and IVF is a lifestyle. It dominates your life so much that other goals and pursuits are very much on the back burner.
-It’s very expensive and it’s more likely that it won’t work on the first cycle. Having the procedure not work is one blow. Draining funds is another. Depending on your financial and health situation, financing an adoption may be more likely to lead to a child.
-It gave us a chance to have a biological child. Adoption wasn’t the right choice for our family, and so if we wanted a child, this was the last chance.
-It’s pretty common these days, so a lot of people knew what it was and were supportive.
-We got to choose when I got pregnant! I fit it in between school semesters! Obviously, we were lucky that the first try “took”, but still!
– I was lucky and got to freeze a few extra embryos. Now I feel less pressure to pop out another when I am focusing on completing my degree right now. At 31, this quieted the biological clock for me a bit.
– It was actually (in retrospect) pretty cool to get such a close-up look at the miracle of life. I have a pic of my daughter at 5 days post fertilization. We got to watch them plant her as a tiny embryo on a big screen.
– Yucky drugs
– $$ and more $$
– Time and effort – constant appointments, research, taking time off work, etc., etc. It was a marathon, but after 4 years, we were used to it.
– Mental stress, life being in “limbo”, feeling like I couldn’t make plans because of this huge mountain we were climbing.
– One final con. I feel pressure from people, (even myself sometimes!) that because it was so much work for me to get pregnant, and it was such a miracle that I did, that I am somehow being ungrateful because I don’t (and never did) want to be a full time stay-at-home mom. My own grandmother said to me when I told her my school plans “after all the trouble it took to get her here – you’re going to leave her?” I was crushed. I had a hard time reaching out and getting help when I suffered from post-partum depression because I felt so guilty for being so unhappy when I was supposed to be so happy. I still struggle with this guilt.
-I’ve thought about this a lot. The biggest cons I can see are the cost and the toll on my body, as well as the possible emotional letdown. I feel like I would put a lot of pressure on myself for it to work out if we put so much money into this chance.
The pros, of course, would be the possibility of having a child. (It might be worth noting that these feelings are often mixed and convoluted.)
-The only cons I could think of when I started preparing for IVF was that this procedure would be my last resort for getting pregnant. That there would be no hope left in case this last, ultimate measure failed. And yet, here we are, still hoping after 5 failed IVF cycles.
-Now, having gained the “failed IVFs” experience, I can wholeheartedly confirm it’s totally devastating to get non-pregnant HCG results.
-Ten days after embryo transfer are crazy but still somehow pleasantly emotional. I feel pregnant, not pregnant, never-gonna-be-pregnant, all at the same time. I secretly talk to my embryos, search for non-existent pregnancy signs, even feel false pregnancy cravings–only to get crushed by the test in the end.
-And the week or so after that is just plain horrible =)) Crying jags, feeling sorry for myself, wanting to have kids SO MUCH, being desperate. Definite cons. But this week comes to an end, and somehow hope emerges again. So yes, emotional letdown is by default in the cons column, but you know, sadness will pass, tears will dry, life will go on.
We are happy that we had tried.
-We did IVF to get baby #3. I think if you want a baby enough to do IVF, at that point, the “cons” just feel like another hurdle for you to get through. The expense, the daily monitoring appointments (especially difficult with older children at home) and the weeks of twice-daily injections.
-The pro? Your very best chance of conceiving! The elation of knowing you’re pulling out all the stops and doing the best science can offer at this time. And it may be possible to have embryos to freeze so that you are able to have more children if you wish.
-Solely from reading about your experience (ok, and a few other posts) the cons are the costs, the taxing regime on the body/injections, the exhaustion.
-The pros are obviously: A CHILD and one that’s likely biologically linked.
Part of the issue is that many people have preconceived notions about IVF that are hard to shake. No, it’s not something that only desperate rich people do. No, it will not make you Octomom. No, it does not (to anyone’s knowledge) cause lasting issues for the mother and baby. But the hardest one is no, it does not always work…. people in general have a vastly inflated idea of how well IVF works.
-It’s a big commitment of time for appointments which involve transvaginal ultrasounds over a period of (depending on the protocol and how you respond) up to a couple of months per cycle.
-It’s a lot of injections, every day, most of which are hormones so side effects are highly variable.
-It’s not a sure thing–there is a huge amount of guesswork and trial and error involved, so most people have to go through multiple cycles which can be a big shock if no one told you.
-If it goes well, you will probably be very uncomfortable, for a few days to a few weeks. Egg retrieval is minor surgery.
-There are a large number of decisions that have to be made, often somewhat blindly because there is not much solid information.
-The process itself is very unpredictable and there are a huge number of things that can go wrong which makes it an emotional roller coaster. You spend a lot of time not knowing.
-Most couples go through a lot of other methods before getting into IVF, so at this point, a lot of them are emotionally (and perhaps financially) burned out before having to face IVF, which makes the decision that much harder…. you always wonder, in infertility, if maybe nothing will work and you should stop while you still recognize yourself. The fear of the physical effects is probably the biggest concern before starting. The emotional up and down is probably the hardest part of actually doing it.
-It’s by far the most successful treatment available for using your own eggs/sperm.
-IVF can reveal more information about why you aren’t conceiving, although there’s often not much that can be done about it…. still, infertility is a process with a lot of unknowns, so there is some comfort in just knowing.
-By the time you get there, it may be your last option… when the choice is IVF or no children, IVF doesn’t seem so unreasonable.
At this point, other than a miracle, IVF is the only way I can get pregnant again. We chose no…or rather, no for now. But we will probably revisit the idea again at some point.
-Financial cost was a big factor because our insurance at the time didn’t cover IVF.
-Aside from that, I knew I wasn’t ready to deal with the emotions. It’s already too much to deal with years of infertility and then to have a doctor tell you you won’t be able to have anymore children. I wanted to get myself to a place where I wasn’t obsessed with having a baby because I knew that getting pregnant wasn’t going to magically heal the hurt. I’ve had to learn to be ok with the fact that my son will probably be an only child.
I know a lot of our readers here have had experiences with IVF. What would you all say would be the pros and cons of IVF for you?
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