We asked an experienced fertility doctor about what most patients don’t know before starting their IVF. Our associate, Dr. Harpreet Sidhu shares the 10 questions to ask your fertility specialist before starting your IVF.
The decision to undergo IVF is usually quite scary and stressful for couples because most patients are unsure of what to expect in an IVF cycle.
This anxiety usually stems from their unfamiliarity with the procedure, but asking the right questions can help ease your apprehension and make journey through IVF much smoother.
Below the are important questions to ask your fertility specialist before starting an IVF cycle:
- How long should we try to conceive naturally before IVF, if all the test results are normal?
Your fertility specialist can help you make a decision looking at your investigation reports. It depends upon your age, partner’s age, for how long you have been trying, what treatment you have received so far, any past significant treatments which might affect fertility potential and so on.
Making the decision at right time can help getting the optimal results as well as avoid unnecessary anxieties.
- What tests do I need to do before IVF?
Before starting an IVF cycle, make sure your body is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term. A couple of blood tests will be performed to check your Hb, blood group, blood sugar, any infections, etc. There are also some fertility tests for women, which will be done to check for your ovarian reserve, status of your ovulation, the possibility of PCOS, etc.
For the male partner, blood tests to check his blood group and any infections are done. He will also need to get semen analysis before starting the IVF treatment. Any special tests may be advised further depending upon your individual situation.
- What are your Clinic’s success rate-in terms of live births and pregnancy rate?
It’s always good to know the live births rate and pregnancy rate in IVF cycles for the clinic where you are taking treatment. Although they cannot determine your individual chances of success, it gives you a general idea of the clinic’s standards.
- What are my chances of success in IVF?
The success rates of your IVF clinic are not as important as your individual factors for IVF success. An experienced fertility specialist will be able to tell you about the chances of success in your case after studying various factors—age, cause of infertility, ovarian reserve, sperm quality, uterine lining, and others. It’s always good be realistic and have the right expectations from the treatment from the beginning.
- Is there anything I can do to improve the chances of success in IVF?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping in healthy weight with BMI in the normal range, reducing your stress levels and avoiding alcohol and smoking are all factors that can improve your chances of success in IVF at any stage. It is advisable to have a healthy diet for IVF that is rich in anti-oxidants and avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
By taking adequate measures, the semen parameters in males can start to improve in just around 3 months, as the life cycle of human sperm is 42-76 days.
In addition to this pre-conceptional use of folic acid and adequate treatment of any medical conditions if present, is strongly recommended to get a healthy outcome.
- Is the IVF done in batches? Do you have an in-house or visiting embryologist?
Having in house embryologist allows the clinic to do your IVF cycle at any time of the month rather than waiting to do several cycles together in a batch.
Additionally, IVF lab maintenance is better in the presence of an embryologist as looking after the lab is part of their daily duties. Ask if your clinic has a full-time, in-house embryologist.
- What can be the side-effects or complications I should be prepared for?
IVF treatment can be physically demanding for the woman. There is risk of Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) especially in women with PCOS. Besides there are some risks with IVF drugs and the daily injections can be painful for some women.
If you face any unusual symptoms like fever, severe pain in the abdomen, headache, swelling, or redness in the legs, you should immediately report to your doctor.
- Where do I go if I face any problem during odd hours?
Although IVF is generally a safe treatment with rare emergencies but you should not completely rule out problems for which you might need consultation at odd hours. So, always ask for 24×7 contact number in case of emergency where you can report your symptoms and seek advice.
- What are my options, if the treatment is unsuccessful?
You must know that the success rate in IVF is not 100%, and there are chances that a pregnancy may not occur with first cycle of IVF.
In case you have extra embryos frozen from your first cycle (which is a common practice these days), you may get a frozen embryo transfer (FET). Fresh and frozen embryo transfer have now proven to have similar success rates.
In case you do not have any frozen embryos from your IVF cycle, the only option would be repeat the IVF cycle.
- How much will be the cost of treatment and what all will be included in it?
It is always good to know the cost of treatment known beforehand so that you can plan accordingly. Ask your doctor about the details of what all is included in one treatment cycle so that there are no hidden charges later on.
Typically, you quote should cover the cost of ovarian stimulation drugs, scans, blood tests, cost of the lab procedure, and embryo transfer. Freezing cost, cost of blastocyst culture, special semen may or may not be included.
It is advisable to get the full details (including the cost of FET, PGD/PGS testing, and any other services that may be required) from your clinic.
Being unable to conceive and finally deciding to see a fertility specialist is often a difficult decision, but you’d be surprised at how many couples need medical help to conceive today. Most of them are anxious because they are not familiar with the process and don’t know what to ask.
About the author:
This article is written by Dr. Harpreet Sidhu, MD, FNB, MRCOG.
She has over 15 years of experience in the field and is generally described by our clients as highly compassionate and helpful.