When I first heard of IVF, I basically figured the process consisted of putting sperm inside you and voila! According to my pre-teen sexual education, consisting mostly of things my friend Caroline told me in the school yard like: “You can get pregnant from dry humping if pre-cum seeps through your humpers pants onto you.” I thought pregnancy was an inevitable result of having sperm anywhere near your goodies. So when deliberately placing sperm right on your cervix by my calculations that could only result in one thing…quadruplets.
So, you can see why when my partner and I decided to start family planning, how shocked I was to find out ‘getting pregnant, is like hard.’ My whole belief system around pregnancy was shattered. Where I previously believed “You can NEVER touch your own vagina without washing your hands because the world is basically covered in potent jiz that WILL get you pregnant – Caroline 1996. A few minutes into my first fertility appointment I quickly learned the the cold hard truth that pregnancy is not an inevitable side effect of slow dancing too closely to a boner.
Here are 5 more things I wish I knew before starting IVF in addition to the 7 tips you need to know about IVF right now we posted last week.
- Odds are it won’t work more than it will. If you’re a betting woman, you’d want to bet on the house. Which makes no sense because you’re actually dishing out loads of cash knowing your odds are only about 30% per cycle for carriers in their early 30s. However, the jackpots are pretty sweet and totally worth all the risk.
- There are drugs, and they will make you feel nuts. Unless you’re my friend Carly who said she didn’t notice any changes in her moods while taking hormones, most women say conservatively it’s like “PMS times 50”. My girl Carly said her PMS has always been level 50, so there was no change for her, just regular savage.
- Being pregnant doesn’t mean you are going to have a baby. I really thought this was the main symptom of pregnancy: having a baby. Apparently, my school yard pal Caroline was wrong again. According to a study by Wang (not kidding), jim et al., women who underwent IVF and got pregnant with a single child had a miscarriage rate of 22%. Just slightly above the 15-20% average among those who conceive the ‘old fashioned’ way.
- Choosing sperm is hard. It’s a lot like trying to create your ultimate playlist with only tiny bits of random information that really don’t tell anything about what your album will look and sound like. Sperm banks have gotten creative such as many of them offering baby photos, a recording of the donor’s voice, or images of people the donor looks like. While these are neat snippets of information, it’s hard to envision the sum of the parts and get a real appreciation for who the donor is. In terms of function, specimens can vary a lot as well. Samples can meet minimum criteria – post-thaw minimum of 20 million motile sperm per cc – , but low end counts can be insufficient to fertilize eggs. Be sure to get information on success rates of donors and age of last donation as this information can make all the difference.
- Fertility clinics can be ill-prepared dealing with same sex couples. The first clinic my partner and I attended made us feel like we were perhaps the first lesbian couple that had ever come through their doors. From top to bottom, they weren’t prepared and really blew it (pun not intended; we didn’t get pregnant there). Support staff, nurses and even the doctor we met with during our first appointment couldn’t even answer simple questions like, what’s involved if we want to use a known donor? Don’t straight folk use known donors all the time? Aka their husbands. We left our first appointment giving them a list of questions they were going to call us back on with the answers later. I should have saved time and consulted my old pal and pregnancy expert Caroline instead.
I hope you enjoyed this list of things I wish I had known before starting IVF. How about you? Is there anything you wish you had known before starting your IVF journey? Let us know in the comments below. My friend Caroline is also available for pregnancy advice send her your questions here.
Source: Wang, Jim X., Robert J. Norman and Allen J. Wilcox. “Incidence of spontaneous abortion among pregnancies produced by assisted reproductive technology.” Human Reproduction Feb 2004. 19(2):272-277.