Causes & Treatment

What Should I Consider Before Having IVF?

Eloise Edington  |   14 Jan 2022

When embarking on fertility treatment, there are many things to think about.  In fact, there are so many things to consider, it’s understandable we forget some of these things on our fertility journeys.

Fortunately, FHH‘s new fertility clinic partner, iGin, has rounded up key questions to ask before starting IVF.

iGin is a highly-regarded fertility clinic based in multiple locations across Spain (view iGin’s profile here).  Priding itself on impressive IVF success rates due to state-of-the-art equipment and top-quality personalized care, patients at iGin are deeply valued and receive the best care.

So, what to consider before starting IVF?

Read on to find out iGin’s important questions about fertility treatment.

Over to iGin…

Maybe you have been trying to get pregnant for a while without success, or you are looking to become a solo mother, or perhaps you would like to share the experience of motherhood with your female partner. Whichever your situation, the next step you have decided to take is to schedule a first consultation appointment with a fertility clinic. Well done, this is a big step.

Having many questions about fertility, treatment options and the possible outcome is to be expected and these FAQs below will help answer some of them.

Firstly, it is important to trust your clinic. Having difficulties TTC is not uncommon; almost 15% of heterosexual couples struggle to get pregnant naturally, and in many countries, the percentage of children conceived through assisted reproduction techniques is high (almost 10% in Spain, for example).

When is IVF recommended?

The medical definition of IVF (in vitro fertilization) is:

the union of oocytes and sperm in the laboratory (that is, “in vitro”) in order to obtain embryos that can, after their transfer to the uterus, lead to pregnancy.

In vitro fertilization is recommended in the following circumstances:

  • women with blocked fallopian tubes, tubal injury (hydrosalpinx) or an absence of tubes
  • women who have tried several artificial inseminations without success
  • women with advanced endometriosis, with likely-damaged tubes
  • older women with poor quality eggs
  • couples in which a preimplantation genetic study is necessary
  • couples in which the man has poor sperm quality (moderate or severe male factor)
  • women who decide to freeze their eggs before chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatments for serious diseases such as cancer – or for social reasons
  • same-sex female couples wishing to share the role of biological motherhood (known as reciprocal IVF – the ROPA method – whereby one mother shares her eggs and the other mother carries the fetus to term.

What does the entire IVF process involve?

  • The first thing to do is a series of tests and the results will assess the probable cause(s) of fertility issues.
  • IVF will begin between the first and fourth day of a woman’s period with a baseline ultrasound.
  • Next, come the controlled ovarian stimulations. For eight to 14 days, hormone injections help all activated follicles of your cycle to grow. During this time, you’ll have an average of two or three ultrasound examinations to assess the growth of the follicles.
  • When the growth of follicles is deemed sufficient, you’ll be required to administer a “trigger injection” at a specific time.
  • Over the next day or so, you’ll attend the clinic for egg collection. Naturally, one egg is released per cycle. With IVF, the aim is to collect the highest number of eggs possible on one single cycle through an ovarian puncture under light sedation.
  • The average length of time between the beginning of the cycle and the ovarian puncture is about 15 days.
  • The extracted eggs are fertilized in vitro (in the laboratory), where they are cultured for a five to six days. One of these embryos is transferred to the uterine cavity and the rest are frozen for future use.

How long does the IVF process take from start to finish?

The duration of the process will depend on:

  • the number of ovarian stimulations needed to reach the adequate number of eggs, and
  • whether the resulting embryos can be transferred in the same cycle or with the next menstrual period.

Confirmation of pregnancy takes place 12 days after embryo transfer (commonly known as the “two week wait” 2WW/TWW)

How do get the most out of my first IVF cycle?

It is important to carry out a complete previous study, guided by a gynecologist specialized in assisted reproduction. During this study, some important tests will be performed that will determine the start of treatment and the procedure to follow.

There are five important initial tests to consider:

  1. Sperm analysis, to study the quality of semen (also tested on donors for solo mothers and same-sex female couples)
  2. Transvaginal ultrasound to check the functionality of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes
  3. Blood tests: to assess the general health of the genetic parents, to rule out hormonal problems of ovulation or other glands, and to identify any infection to be treated prior to IVF.  Blood tests are undertaken on donors
  4. Basic genetic study called a karyotype, for both genetic parents
  5. In some cases, a test called Hysterosalpingography may be recommended. This a particular form of X-ray used to study the fallopian tubes more closely.

What should I avoid during IVF?

It’s important to live as healthily as possible, following a balanced and varied diet (and drinking lots of water) to optimise IVF success. Avoid drinking alcohol and inhaling cigarettes or other toxins and take only the medications prescribed by the fertility specialist during fertility treatment.

For better IVF success improve your general wellbeing and take low-intensity physical exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is not part of a healthy lifestyle and sport helps to obtain better physical and psychological quality of life, particularly during the process of assisted reproduction which can be fraught with stress and worry.

For this reason, we recommend practicing low-intensity sports such as walking, swimming, yoga or Pilates. The practice of these sports can be continued even after pregnancy is achieved.

I’m ready to start IVF. How do I contact a fertility clinic?

If you are looking for a fertility clinic in Spain or any other country abroad, you would ideally contact them via email. At iGin, once we have received your email, our team of International Coordinators will contact you to offer a free, no obligation, remote consultation with one of our doctors. During this first consultation, the doctor will explain your options for treatment, timeline etc., and you will be able to ask any questions related to your fertility treatment. The aim of this initial consultation is to alleviate any concerns and provide all the information needed to make an informed decision about fertility treatment options to choose.

Should I consider travelling abroad as destination for fertility treatment abroad?

Yes, it’s worth considering travelling abroad.

Wait times for fertility treatment or donor gametes in home countries can be long and you may find you can start IVF sooner if you travel abroad. Spain is the leading country in Assisted Reproduction and, as recognized by the European Society for Embryology and Human Reproduction, 40% of all fertility treatments in Europe are performed in Spain. With highly qualified professionals and the most advanced technology in the field of assisted reproduction, Spanish clinics have the highest pregnancy rates from fertility treatments.

I only speak one language – is this a problem when having fertility treatment abroad?

Language barriers are an important issue to clear up before starting fertility treatment. If you decide to travel abroad for fertility treatment, it’s important to find out if your chosen clinic has members of staff who speak your language. For example, at iGin we have an International Department with a team of Coordinators who are permanently in touch with our international patients. Our Coordinators speak English, French, Italian and Spanish, so our patients are in good hands.

iGin’s thorough FAQs will hopefully begin to help answer some common questions about IVF and fertility treatment you might have.

To speak with an experienced fertility consultant, contact iGin’s clinic here to book an appointment and have questions unique to your fertility journey answered.

If you’re looking for a supportive community, download our free FHH Squad app (here).  It’s bursting with advice from people who are going through similar experiences – or who’ve gone through it and can help!

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