How to beat IVF Treatment!

    “Everything is going to be fine in the end.
    If it’s not fine it’s not the end.” Oscar Wilde

    IVF treatment is the hardest thing that I have ever experienced. The whole IVF process is long and arduous. There are so many low points that come with IVF treatment and it can be hard to believe that it will ever work out. My wife and I spent almost three years from when we started to try to get pregnant to the birth of our twins. If you are interested then you can read my story here. Click here to read my IVF Success Story. Through those difficult years, I learned a lot about myself and the IVF process. Those lessons, I have put into this very long blog post. I want to help as many people as possible that have given up hope or are struggling through this troubling time.

    My top tips for successful IVF:

    1. 15 Helpful Tips before your IVF treatment

    Surviving three IVF Treatments does not make me an expert but the lessons that I have learned will be valuable for courageous couples that are going through the difficult IVF process. Before you start, you should take these tips into consideration and hopefully it will help your chances of success and give you peace of mind throughout your journey.

    If you want to read more about the 15 tips to help you with successful IVF then please read my blog post: Click here to read my 15 Tips to help you have a successful IVF treatment. Below are main points from that post.

    1. The first step of successful IVF is getting checked out by a fertility specialist
    2. For successful IVF you have to keep your options open.
    3. Go with your gut if you want to have successful IVF.
    4. Persistence is part of successful IVF.
    5. Successful IVF requires patience.
    6. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption to increase the chances of successful IVF.
    7. What you eat can affect the chances of successful IVF.
    8. Staying positive will help you to achieve a successful IVF.
    9. Work HARDER on your relationship during your IVF treatments.
    10. Take time off before and after each treatment to help your chances of successful IVF
    11. People will not understand what you are going through.
    12. Through IVF you will learn a lot of valuable life lessons.
    13. IVF might be the hardest thing you ever do.
    14. Try everything that you can to improve your chances of successful IVF
    15. Be careful of people trying to take advantage of your situation.

    2. Don’t wait too long to get checked out

    If you are like me, then you never would have considered infertility as an issue you would have to deal with. Don’t make the same mistake that I did. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse (six months if the woman is over age 35) or the inability to carry a pregnancy to live birth. If you fall into either of these categories, then I would highly recommend going to your local doctor and he can recommend a good fertility clinic or urologist.

    After a conversation with a friend about my wife not being able to get pregnant, he recommended that we check out the quality of my sperm and my wives ovaries. Luckily, my wife was perfectly healthy and she was fertile making our journey easier. The results of my semen analysis, on the other hand, were devastating, I had really low scores when it came to the motility(movement) and morphology(shape) of my sperm. My sperm count was adequate but the sperm was having difficulty reaching the ovaries for fertilisation. The reasons for my poor semen quality are unknown. It could have been anything but the most likely culprits were appendicitis as a child or smoking cigarettes on and off for about 15 years. Needless to say, I quit smoking soon after I got the terrible news.

    Further Reading and information:

    Semen Analysis -http://www.healthline.com/health/semen-analysis#Uses2

    Click here to check your Sperm at home in 10 minutes

    Infertility and reproduction guide http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/semen-analysis#1

    http://www.theinfertilityjourney.com/

    http://www.newhopefertility.com/ivf/

    3.What is the IVF Treatment/ICSI procedure?

    As mentioned before I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. This is my explanation of IVF Treatment and ICSI in layman’s terms. The term In vitro fertilisation comes from the latin word “in glass” and describes the fertilisation of an egg by sperm outside the body. The simplest way to introduce it is by watching the short videos above and below. The videos are informative but I don’t necessarily agree with the doctors in the video’s claims that the success rate is upwards of 60%. I will go into the IVF success/IVF pregnancy rates in more detail later.

    The Difference with ICSI and IVF Treatment is that the sperm is directly injected into the egg during the ICSI procedure. For guys with mobility issues, this method is most commonly used. This can be seen in the video below

     

    The four steps to the IVF Treatment/ICSI procedure:

    1.The induction of Ovulation for IVF Treatment

    Your fertility doctor will monitor the woman’s ovaries and the timing of the releasing of the eggs. The doctor will then do various tests to ensure the ovaries are producing eggs and that hormone levels are adequate. Then comes what is, in my opinion, one of the harshest parts of the IVF treatment/ IVF procedure the injection of fertility drugs. The fertility drugs that induce ovulation will be different for every couple. In our case, for the first two IVF Treatments progesterone was recommended by our fertility clinic.

    Injecting my wife, who has a needle phobia, twice per day, was a dramatic experience. It was reminiscent of Mongolian horseman breaking in a wild horse. The side effects of the drugs are even worse than the administration. These include lethargy, mood swings and depression to name but a few. It is important for the man in the relationship to be as understanding as possible during this trying time.

    2. Egg Retrieval with IVF Treatment

    The next step is when shit gets real. The doctor removes the egg/eggs from the vaginal wall with a very thin needle. The Oocyte(egg) is then placed in an incubator in nutrient rich medium to await fertilisation from the sperm.
    3.Fertilisation

    This is the part where the man(or donor) does the business and a sperm sample is collected. With IVF Treatment, the strongest sperm is placed in the Petri dish, in the hope of an egg being fertilised. In the case of ICSI, the sperm is injected directly into the egg. Then the fertilised egg/eggs are placed into an incubator and monitored for several days(depending on the clinic and countries laws) with the hope of a healthy embryo developing.

    4.Embryo transfer and implementation

    After 5 days, the strongest embryo or embryos are selected for transfer to the uterus. If all goes to plan the embryos will attach to the uterus within 48 hours and the woman will become pregnant. If there are leftover embryos that are healthy, they can be frozen for future use. After the transfer, the woman should rest for 48 hours to help the process.

    Further reading:

    In Vitro Treatment – Procedure http://www.londonwomensclinic.com/london/ivftreatment

    IVF Treatment – http://attainfertility.com/article/get-pregnant

    Process of IVF- http://www.advancedfertility.com/ivfprocedures.htm

    Fertility drugs – http://attainfertility.com/article/fertility-drugs

    Side Effects of progesterone https://www.drugs.com/sfx/progesterone-side-effects.html

    4. How much does IVF Treatment(ICSI) cost?

    The cost of IVF Treatment can be considerable and can have a big impact on the decision to go through with IVF treatment or not. My wife and I were very lucky that our health insurance in Germany covered our three IVF treatments at virtually no cost. The cost per try would have been about €6,000 including medication. The cost in the US can be up to €18,000. In the UK the cost is roughly £5,000. In the Czech Republic and

    The cost in the US can be up to €18,000. In the UK the cost is roughly £5,000. In the Czech Republic and Latvia, the prices can be as low as $2,500. A lot of people chose to travel to other countries for their IVF treatment. This can be because of the price in their home country or the different fertility/reproduction laws that may work in the couple’s favour. The website http://fertility.treatmentabroad.com/costs has an insightful guide that will give you estimated prices for each country.

    Average cost of a single cycle of IVF Treatment

    Country $ £
    USA $18,000 £14.390 €16,858
    Germany $6,405 £5,120 €6,000
    Brazil $4000 £2,525 €3030
    Czech $2,965* £1,870 €2250
    Greece $3,900-$4,300 £2,500- £2,800 €3,000-€3,350
    Hungary $2,350 £1,500 €1800
    India $2,000 – $3000 £1,265- £1,895 €1,525- €2,285
    Lithuania $1,982 £1,275 $1,506
    Russia $3,150 £2,000 €2400
    Spain $5,500-$6,500 £3,500- £4,150 €4,200-€5,000
    Turkey $2,000 £1,250 €1500
    Ukraine $1,825 £1,150 €1385

     

    Further Reading and information:

    IVF Treatment Cost Calculator

    4 things I have learned from IVF Treatment

    Fertility Clinics abroad

    Prices abroad

    5. How to find a Clinic.

    This is a painstaking experience and is crucial to the success of your IVF treatment. Do your research and find out as much about your condition as possible. Then find the best clinic that meets your needs. Read and research as much as you can about the clinic. After you have found several clinics that meet your needs you should visit several and get as many professional opinions as possible. This will help you to get a better understanding of your specific infertility issues. Talking to different doctors will help you to uncover problems that you did not know you had.

    It is important to go with your gut. If you do not get a good feeling about the clinic then do not go through with your procedure there. My wife and I made this mistake. We tried ICSI twice at a clinic where we had a bad feeling and had two failed ICSI procedures. Each time they tried the exact same procedure even though it had not worked the first two times. ICSI is a lot of trial and error especially when it comes to the drugs and fertility techniques used. This is why it is common for IVF treatment not to work the first time. With each try, the fertility doctors see what is not working and correct the course of the next ICSI treatment.

    We were going to try a third time in the same clinic but we decided last minute not to go ahead. We were too traumatised by the two failed attempts and had to try something new. Instead, we went to a different clinic, which was actually the first clinic that we had ever visited. Originally, we decided not to go with the first clinic as the doctor we met was an absolute weapon of mass destruction.

    You should also get a good feeling about the doctor as well as the clinic. They are the ones that are responsible for the creation of your children. The clinic that we eventually chose was great and our doctor was perfect in every way. I am so grateful for everything that she and her team did for us and they are the reason my two little miracles Max and Mathilda are alive. The clinic is http://www.fertilitycenterberlin.de/de  and the doctor was the aptly named Dr. med. Anette Siemann. I cannot thank her enough for everything that she has done for us.

    Further reading:

    http://www.hfea.gov.uk/fertility-clinics.html

    http://www.ihr.com/infertility/ivftreatment/how-to-select-infertility-ivf-clinic.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-huhman/the-ultimate-guide-to-choosing-a-fertility-clinicand-knowing-when-to-get-a-second-opinion_b_7525998.html

    6. What are the success rates for IVF Treatment?

    This is a complicated calculation and I am not sure how they conclusively come up with the statistics. I would approach IVF Treatment with optimism and a positive outlook but I would also recommend staying grounded and realistic about the chances. We tried IVF Treatment three times and it was successful on the third attempt so we had a success rate of 33%. The average success rate for IVF is 25-35% but age plays a big role in the chances of success. The average fertile couple has a 15-20% chance of getting pregnant naturally in any given month.

    IVF success Rates with age

    • Under 35 – 32.2%
    • 35–37 – 27.7%
    • 38–39 – 20.8%
    • 40–42 – 13.6%
    • 43–44 – 5.0%
    • 45 +  – 1.9%

    Further reading:

    http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/ivf-art/what-are-my-chances-of-success-with-ivf.

    http://www.advancedfertility.com/ivf-age.htm

    http://www.winfertility.com/age-affects-ivf-treatment-success/

    7. What to do before and after each IVF treatment

    Make sure to get fit and lower your percentage of body fat.

    How important is IVF treatment for you? You have to want it more than anything and be willing to make big sacrifices. Every choice that you make can help your hinder your chances of success. Get your shop in order. Look after yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally as well as looking after your relationship.

    During the first two failed IVF attempts I feel that I did not do enough to increase my chances of the IVF treatment working. I ate badly, drank too much, was overweight and was stressed out. If you want to have a successful IVF and have any of these factors working against you then your chances are greatly reduced. You have to improve your diet, lose weight, drink less and relieve stress to improve the quality of your reproductive organs and increase the chances of IVF working for you.

    If you want IVF to work for you then you have to be willing to make changes. I do not claim to be a scientist or doctor, nor do I have any proof that any of this actually works, but I can share with you what I changed before my third and final successful IVF treatment.

    10 things that I did to increase the chances of successful IVF treatment:

    1. Lost 7 Kilos(15 pounds)
    2. Changed my diet to mostly organic unprocessed food
    3. I ate a lot of fertility boosting foods
    4. Exercised 6 days a week
    5. Reduced my alcohol intake to less than 15 units per week
    6. Meditated daily
    7. Did Acupuncture
    8. Used fertility boosting supplements
    9. Went to sunny Spain for 10 days before the treatment
    10. Went away for a weekend after the treatment

    All of these factors helped me to be more relaxed, less stressed out and got my body in peak physical condition before the last IVF procedure. I am not sure which of these factors worked or helped the most but as a result of IVF, I have made many changed to my life and become a much healthier and happier person.

    Further Reading:

    http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/2013/07/12-tips-for-ivf.html

    http://www.yourivfjourney.com/implantation-after-ivf-10-crucial-tips/

     

    8. The Psychological effects of failed IVF and how to deal with it

     

    It is well known that the causes of infertility are physiological but the hardships that come with it are exacerbated by the psychological ups and downs of infertility treatment. I am an eternal optimist and always see the light at the end of the tunnel and always move towards it(unlike my sperm who find the end of the tunnel difficult to reach). This attitude helped me through the harrowing experience of IVF treatment. My wife, on the other hand, tends to be the polar opposite. She tends to be slightly on the side of pessimism, as she says ” I am not a pessimist, I am a realist”.

    To quote the great Irish playwright Oscar Wilde ” it will be alright in the end, if is not alright then it is not the end”. This was my motto from the very beginning to the end of our IVF journey. Sometimes you have to step back and analyse the situation(no matter how challenging) that you are in and realise that life is teaching you some valuable lessons. This is easier said than done but knowing that a positive outcome would eventually be reached is what helped me to deal with multiple IVF procedures.

    To quote the great Irish playwright Oscar Wilde ” it will be alright in the end, if is not alright then it is not the end”. This was my motto from the very beginning to the end of our IVF journey. Sometimes you have to step back and analyse the situation(no matter how challenging) that you are in and realise that life is teaching you some valuable lessons. This is easier said than done but knowing that a positive outcome would eventually be reached is what helped me to deal with multiple IVF procedures.

    We went through the heartache of two failed IVF attempts and it was the hardest thing that both Olivia and I have ever experienced. You can only understand how heartbreaking a failed IVF treatment is if you have been through it. You put all your eggs in one basket as there is no other way and when it doesn’t work, it is the most upsetting time of your life. A quote from a Harvard mental health letter says that “many women with infertility felt as anxious or depressed as those diagnosed with cancer, hypertension, or those recovering from heart attacks.

    After failed IVF treatments depression is a normal side effect. You question yourself and the treatment and the world seems a dark and hopeless place. It is hard to get through these difficult teams and I would highly recommend taking a break to somewhere warm to get away from the tumultuous turmoil that’s caused by a failed IVF attempt.

    If you are open to the suggestion then go and see a counsellor. This is not for everyone. My wife and I went to see one and it helped me greatly but my wife did not like it. For some people, the thought of paying such large quantities of money for something that is not enjoyable is waste of time. Counsellors are trained in helping people that are having psychological issues that are a result of IVF. If you have the resources and are open to expressing yourself in front of a stranger then you should try counselling to see if it is for you. It cannot harm you.

    Discovering meditation helped me greatly. The practice of mindfulness is a wonderful way of observing your thoughts and thought patterns and learning to co-exist with them instead of letting them take over your life. A great app that has helped me on my meditation journey is https://www.headspace.com/. I have meditated nearly every day for the last few years and I can safely say that my life is better as a result. One of the positive effects of finding out that I was infertile was discovering meditation. Meditation is not for everyone but here is some further reading on meditation that might cause you to be less sceptical:

    Super successful CEO’s that meditate

    Harvard Study – 8 weeks to a better brain

    Forbes article on how meditation changes your brain

    Famous People that meditate

    9. Don’t expect others to understand your situation

    This is one of the most confusing and frustrating parts of IVF, especially for women. As a woman’s biological clock ticks there is a societal pressure to have children. This is not as prevalent for men but the question often arises “so, when are you having children”. When you are physically not able to have children then this question is either greeted with “we are working on it” or “we are going through IVF”.

    Everyone is different but I was ashamed that I was infertile and I only told my immediate family and a few friends. I don’t know why I was ashamed. It is not my fault and there is nothing that I could do to have prevented my unexplained infertility. I told a selct few about what we were going through as it made it easier for me. That way, I did not have to explain the first two failed IVF attempts. It is often the opposite for women who find solace in confiding in others during a time of hardship.

    Further Reading:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/09/living/feat-infertility-why-people-dont-talk-openly-about-it/

    https://medium.com/a-different-perspective/is-this-why-we-don-t-talk-about-infertility-41e321b1c40e#.z4nx6u87y

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ariane-le-chevallier/lets-talk-about-our-ferti_b_8443336.html

    10. How to protect your relationship during IVF

    When the world seems to be crumbling around you, it is natural to take your anger out on your closest friends and family. During our two year IVF ordeal, our relationship was pushed to its very limits. There are not many situations that are more trying for a relationship than infertility and the stress of IVF treatment. If your relationship is strong enough to handle the course of IVF then it can handle anything.

    My wife and I went through the most traumatic two years of our lives and through our three tries we came out the other side much stronger and more in love than ever. To get through the hard times you have to really work hard. When we were going through these harsh times my wife dealt with the situation of infertility much differently than I did, even though she was the one that was perfectly fertile. She went into a deep pit of depression and isolated herself from the world and I was her shoulder to cry on.

    During the IVF treatment, I had to remain strong and positive through the tears and extreme mood swings. I kept myself busy and filled my time productively with hobbies, work, reading and focusing on being the best husband that I could be. Here is a list of things that any husband can do for his wife to help her through the stress of IVF treatment:

    1. Take many holidays/weekend breaks
    2. Make her breakfast in bed every morning
    3. Go on a date at least once per week
    4. Compliment her on a daily basis
    5. Send daily reassuring text messages
    6. Eat a meal together every evening and talk
    7. Buy her nice gifts
    8. Go to every doctor’s appointment
    9. Read up on IVF stuff together
    10. Communicate

    11.Chances of having twins with IVF

    If you chose in vitro fertilisation then the chances of you having fraternal twins(non-identical twins) can be increased but this is dependent on the age of the mother and how many embryos are placed into the Uterus. For each of our three IVF treatments, we placed two embryos in the Uterus. The first two attempts failed as the embryos did not develop enough in the lab and were not strong enough to survive when transferred to my wife’s body. On our third attempt at IVF, everything was ideal, the clinic, the doctor and the development of the embryos. We had two embryos that survived and had developed perfectly. We transferred both to my wife’s uterus and through the wonder of modern science, we now have two beautiful babies.

    Further reading:

    http://www.advancedfertility.com/blastocy.htm

    http://www.babycenter.com/0_your-likelihood-of-having-twins-or-more_3575.bc

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9069425/Only-one-in-ten-IVF-births-can-be-twins.html

    Does IVF Significantly Increase the Chances of Twins or Triplets?

    12. Getting the results

    Getting the results is the most nerve wrecking part of the journey. Having two failed and one successful IVF treatment, I am well versed in the disappointments and utter joy that that accompany the IVF journey. Failed IVF treatment can be compared to a miscarriage or a death in the family. It is truly agonising and you are left feeling hopeless and forlorn. You have done everything in your power to make IVF work and your hopes are so high in getting a positive result. The two worst days of my life were when my wife got her period after our first two tries. I was devastated, but my wife had hit rock bottom and saw no way out. Time heals all wounds and the feeling of loss dissipates slowly but the initial impact is torturous.

    Getting positive results is on the other hand, the best news that you will ever receive. It is like living with a terminal disease for several years and then being told you are cured. It is a truly magical feeling. That day that my wife got positive results in her pregnancy test was the second best day of my life, only topped by the birth of my children. Our last IVF treatment was as close to perfect as you can get. Everything seemed to fall into place and the result was Max and Mathilda.

    With IVF results it is important to be realistic. The average success rate is around 25% so be prepared to try four times if you want a successful IVF treatment. If it does not work then take some time off and disassociate yourself from anything to do with IVF. Take up a hobby, take some time for yourself and go on a holiday. If you get a positive result then savour the moment. Be grateful and enjoy every last minute of your journey. No matter what happens from now on, or what stress you have to deal with in life, nothing compares to the hardship that you have been through. Be grateful and appreciate everything that you have worked so hard for

    Further reading:

    When IVF Failure Is Not An Option

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/17/ivf-couples-fertility-treatment

    http://www.alisonreedecoaching.com/2016/11/10/how-to-deal-with-a-failed-ivf-or-any-fertility-treatment-not-working/

    http://www.whattoexpect.com/forums/fertility-treatments/topic/1st-ivf-success-stories.html

    https://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/about/success/stories-all/

     

    13. IVF forums for IVF Pregnancy and IVF Treatment

    Forums and chat rooms can be a great way to listen to other people’s stories and know that you are not the only one going through these hard times. Often when going through IVF you can experience isolation and feel that nobody understands you. If you do not have anyone to talk to and cannot afford to see a fertility counsellor than here are some great fertility forums that should help you get the through the IVF procedure.

    https://www.reddit.com/r/infertility/

    http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/ivf-and-high-tech/330009-anyone-know-any-ivf-chat-rooms.html

    http://www.fertilityfriends.co.uk/forum/index.php?board=3.0

    http://www.justmommies.com/forums/f562-ttc-ivf/

    http://ivf.ca/forums/

    http://www.whattoexpect.com/groups/fertility-treatments/home

    Conclusion

    If you got this far then fair play to you. This was an extremely long post.

    If you are going through IVF Treatment then I hope that this gave you a better understanding of what to expect. I will help as many people as possible with detailed posts on IVF/ICSI and how to get through it.

    This is not medical advice but an opinion piece from someone that has experienced two stressful years of infertility treatments. If you are going through IVF then remember to always get second opinions from doctors try to stay positive and don’t give up.

    What kind of problems are you experiencing with IVF/ICSI or infertility? Leave comments in the box below and I will gladly answer them.

    If you are interested in what you read or want to download a pdf of this post to read later then please sign up below.

     

    Further stories that might be of interest to you:

    https://scantilydad.com/fertility-centre-3-tips/

    https://scantilydad.com/successful-ivf-15-tips/

    https://scantilydad.com/who-is-scantily-dad/

    https://scantilydad.com/shortish-version-ivf-story/

     

     

     

    SHARE
    Next articleWho the hell is Scantily Dad and what is the Scantily Dad Blog?
    I am James Doherty. AKA Scantily Dad. I have survived three IVF treatments with my beautiful wife Olivia and am now the proud father of twins Max and Mathilda. My blog www.scantilydad.com is the most informative, cutting edge and insightful website on the internet. Due to high demand from the twins I might take a while in responding but feel free to get in touch.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Great blog post! I found this really helpful & reassuring, especially to understand our own situation from another couples experiences. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here