What you need to know before you get to IVF
Is IVF right for your case? How do you know?
If you are noticing you’re having trouble getting pregnant, this is the best time to learn about IVF. This is the time to gather information and understand what ART is and how it works; it is all too easy to get swept into a “headed to IVF stream” without even noticing.
If you are indeed hoping to avoid ART and IVF, there are choices you can make now to help you steer clear.
Do you really want IVF or do you want another way?
Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ART) have provided miracles for many. I am grateful they exist. Concurrently, I advise first learning your body’s fertility physiology and helping it along with DIY methods.
What to know about ART and IVF
- intervene in, and are artificial to, our body’s natural workings
- cost a ton financially
- cost a ton on our nerves and stress levels
- have relatively and surprisingly low success rates
- despite the hope, they can offer no promises
Fertility medicine offers us incredible technologies, which some of us might indeed need, either now or at some point. Yet, once we start down the trail of interventions, it too often has a way of escalating us from one low tech method to the next higher and next and right on up – if we are not succeeding to get pregnant. There are some conditions, once diagnosed, where IVF would be highly and appropriately advised. Those include:
- fallopian tube issues, where egg and embryo travel is likely impeded or impossible
- sperm motility issues, where sperm cannot make it to egg without help
- advanced maternal age, where injecting the sperm through the egg wall in a lab might be a fix for the possible toughness of the older egg’s wall.
How does IVF work?
– a woman injects hormones daily for a number of days to stimulate her ovaries to over-produce eggs.
– a doctor extracts the eggs in an office procedure
– the reproductive technologist checks for good eggs. not all will be good
– in the lab, sperm (from the donor or partner) is introduced to egg for fertilization
– some eggs will fertilize (typically, not all of them will)
– some embryos with make it to day 3 or day 5 (typically not all of them will)
– IF there are good embryos, the doctor implants 1 or 2 embryos into the woman’s uterus in an office procedure.
What is the difference between ART –
DIY optimization methods
Intervention methods will address one part of why a woman may not be conceiving and try to fix that particular part.
For example, if it appears she is not ovulating, there are medications to force ovulation. In a case like this, we are not helping our body remember how to ovulate, or, re-balancing our own hormonal system. We would be forcing the ovulation. While that in itself might be okay, there could be drawbacks. In the same example, it is well known that several of those medications dry up cervical fluid. That fluid is essential for the sperm to stay alive in the woman’s vaginal tract. It also provides a ladder for sperm to get to egg. So while these meds may target and be effective for an egg to drop from the ovary, they could prevent the sperm from getting to that exact egg.
In contrast, DIY Optimization Methods start with a woman looking at her whole hormonal system. There truly is so much that can be done to optimize fertility DIY and at home, simply with a good fertility awareness education and accurate information.
With Fertility Awareness methods, including tracking and charting your whole cycle, you can learn to notice any likely subtle hormonal imbalances yourself. From there, you are armed with information to request targeted blood testing from your MD, and to use the correct diet adjustments and supplements for you specifically, consulting with herbalists and nutritionists and learning from other women who learned (like me!:-) In this way, you are helping your body yourself to have a balanced cycle and increased fertility, with a better chance to conceive
VIa fertility awareness you can learn:
- EWCM makes your fertility optimal – do you have it? and does your cervix produce it at the right time?
- Do you ovulate in the right time-frame (for ripeness), approx day 13-15 of your cycle? and, can you confirm ovulation with your methods?
- how to track your fertility window and have “conception sex” in that time
- how to do effective at-home inseminations (with donor or partner)
Your Fertility Physiology is amazing! Ask any nervous teenager scrambling for condoms – The body is built to get pregnant.
If you are not getting pregnant easily, education and tracking of your fertility physiology is KEY in helping you get pregnant.
Before you head toward ART and IVF, check on these, for example:
– does your partner’s penis hit your cervix at ejaculation?
– is there abundant EWCM the same day you have sex?
– do you climax after him at least once?
All of these, and more, easy at-home self-assessments and tune ups will increase your chances to conceive, and lessen your chances to need ART of IVF down the road.
IVF cannot promise pregnancy even with all the highest ticket technologies. It will definitely be stressful, interrupt the regular flow of daily life, and cost a chunk of change. Sadly, the stats do not “wow” you!
In fact, nothing can promise pregnancy. We can only do our best. Try fertility enhancements first, DIY and at home. Maybe these will take you to your goal. A woman or couple can always choose ART if there is a specific diagnosis that makes IVF the only hope, or, if all of the DIY options are exhausted.
When we need ART, it is truly a miracle.
But you might not need it.
And, you might want to try to avoid slipping along the IVF slope.