When my husband and I turned to 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 that 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, Of This Much I’m Sure. 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 partner 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 3 cycles to better their odds,
but this will not guarantee pregnancy. Think of the process as a marathon that relies on your endurance.