Are there any dos and don'ts while undergoing IVF treatment?
IVF can be a daunting process that needs involvement at a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Very often the uncertainty of what will happen next is worrisome as not every woman will give a fixed response to treatment and a fixed outcome in percentage success. Sometimes you may just wish there was something you could do to ensure better outcome – Yes you Can!
As an IVF expert there are things that I wish my patients did and things that I would want them to avoid to be complimentary and sometimes supplementary to our treatment protocols. Hence this list of Do’s and Don’t’s...
· Cut down on stress and have a positive outlook. Some patients find that meditation helps. Keep your day as normal as it always is.
· Get educated about IVF – the procedure, risks, benefits, success rates, etc. The more you know, the less stress you will feel.
· Health is wealth – is not such a cliché with IVF. The healthier you are to start with the better is the outcome with IVF.
· A healthy diet with lots of proteins, fruits and leafy vegetables along with good hydration helps. Avoid getting dehydrated.
· Optimise you weight to near normal for your height. Work on this well before you start treatment. A BMI of over 30 or less than 19, is associated with poorer outcomes despite all other parameters being normal.
· Get adequate sleep.
· Exercise regularly and in moderation
· Make sure you take any recommended vitamins and micronutrient supplements regularly.
· Stay Positive!
· Don’t listen to negative people. Every couple’s situation and case is different. The outcome of someone else’s case has no bearing on you.
· Don’t neglect your general health and wellbeing.
· Don’t smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. These will affect success and chances for a pregnancy.
· Do not over exert yourself physically.
· Don’t give up after one failed cycle. Some couples will need multiple IVF cycles before achieving pregnancy.
· Don’t lose hope. There is always a plan B that your doctor will be able to counsel you about.
What is my likelihood of getting pregnant with IVF treatment?
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) can help overcome various types of infertility related issues that couples face while trying for a baby. It involves a complex series of procedures (ovulation induction, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization and embryo transfer), used to assist with the conception of a child. However not everyone requires IVF treatment. IVF is considered as the first line of treatment for issues such as blocked tubes, advanced stage endometriosis, male factor infertility, poor ovarian reserve etc. In other cases, IVF may be recommended only when other fertility related treatments are not able to achieve conception.
From a purely biological perspective, it's best to try to start a family before the woman becomes 35 years old. Men can remain fertile for much longer than women. Male fertility also declines with age but this happens more gradually into their 50s. IVF success rate for women in the over 40 age group, with their own eggs, remains very low despite advances in treatments over the last decade.
It is best to consult a fertility expert for fertility evaluation and future course of treatment.
What are the possible side effects of IVF treatment?
Side effects and risks of IVF
IVF brings a ray of hope to multitudes of couples who have been struggling for a pregnancy. It is very important that you are fully informed about the pros and cons involved in the process. Yes, as with any other treatment, there are side effects associated with IVF, usually these are mild but can be distressing if they happen unexpectedly. Being well informed about these beforehand will help you cope better if they do occur.
Mild reactions to fertility injections are common and expected and may involve, hot flashes, headaches, abdominal pain or bloating, restlessness, mood swings, or even feelings of irritability. When pain or discomfort is severe it’s best to let your doctor know, so that any further serious problems like OHSS can be avoided.
OHSS is a rare but potentially dangerous. It is an over response of the ovaries to fertility medications. If in addition to the discomfort and bloating, if you have pain or shortness of breath or reduced urination, you must let you doctor know immediately.
Miscarriage and Ectopic pregnancy
IVF does not increase the risk of miscarriage. The rates are no higher than after natural conception.
An ectopic pregnancy is when the pregnancy implants in the fallopian tube. This can rarely happen in IVF, especially if too many embryos are replaced at a time, one of these might migrate to the tube. We routinely transfer only 2 embryos or 1 blastocyst to avoid this complication.
Premature births and low birth weights
There is some research to suggest that IVF babies tend to be of a lower birth weight than naturally conceived babies. Low birth weight is only associated with fresh embryo transfers and not with frozen transfer babies.
Multiple gestations are known to have risks for both the mother and the babies. There is increased risk of miscarriages, preterm birth, preeclampsia, diabetes, hypertension in pregnancy to name a few. We can reduce this risk by transferring only 1 or 2 embryos at a time.
Risks with egg collection
Egg collection is performed under short general anesthesia. Mild cramping, bloating and some spotting vaginally may occur after the procedure. Very rarely there may be a risk of bleeding and ovarian haematoma formation.
Irregular periods after IVF
After an IVF cycle the first natural period may be early or delayed, may be shorter or longer than expected and it may indeed be heavier than usual. This will happen with almost all, rarely, the irregularity may last for up to 3 to 4 months. Most will settle around this time, if not it is advisable to inform your doctor and rule out any other cause for irregular periods.
Having listed the above I will say that these risks are rare and can be treated completely. You need to voice your concerns and questions so that they can be addressed in time. Through IVF is not easy, in the right hands you should feel safe, supported and hopeful.
What can I expect when I go for IVF treatment?
IVF today is a proven, preferred and helpful tool for those couples who are not able to conceive naturally. When you start IVF treatment, you go through a lot of steps involving, blood tests, injections and visits to the IVF clinic. It includes a series of procedures (ovulation induction, egg retrieval, sperm collection / retrieval, fertilization and embryo transfer), that are used to assist with the conception of a child.
Essentially, your doctor will be mixing eggs and sperms in the laboratory to produce embryos. These embryos are implanted into the mother’s womb, which is a simple but precise procedure.
Stimulation of ovaries is done with injections to produce many eggs at a time. It can take upto 10-12 days for the eggs to be ready for collection. Collection of Eggs is a short procedure under general anaesthesia lasting 20 minutes. You go back home the same day. The husband will give a fresh semen sample on the say from which good sperm are selected to mix with the eggs to form an embryo. this will happen in the IVf lab. One or two embryos may be transferred and the rest frozen for later use in subsequent cycles. Freezing and storage of the embryos happens by vitrification using liquid nitrogen at minus 196 deg celcius.
If the first IVF cycle is successful, you are on your way. However, if it fails, you may decide to try again with one or more additional cycles. In such cases, as guided by your IVF specialist, it is advisable to wait for a month or two between the two cycles.
The probability of success of an IVF cycle will depend on several factors, such as the age of the woman, quality of the sperm, egg and the embryo and number of embryos transferred into the womb.
How do I choose an IVF specialist? What qualities should I look for in the doctor?
Once the decision to opt for an IVF treatment is made, it is the entire IVF clinic set-up that one should take into consideration. Having said that, there are aspects such as seniority, reputation and expertise that one can check while choosing an IVF specialist. Your gynaecologist may recommend an IVF specialist to you. You need to know why he/she is recommended. The more experienced your doctor is, the higher the chance that he has handled different types of cases and situations and will be better equipped to handle your case too. As IVF is an intense procedure, your comfort level with the doctor is also very important.
Here's everything you need to know about IVF
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