For many people and for many reasons, the journey to parenthood involves IVF. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical treatment where a woman’s eggs and man’s sperm are combined in a lab in order to create an embryo, and requires expensive medication that is self-administered at home.
Issues around conception are incredibly common: 7.3 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. have used fertility treatments to get pregnant. For every 100 couples, 12 to 13 report they’ve experienced trouble getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I was one of those women.
After two years of miscarriages and experiencing IVF myself, I decided that I wanted to find a way to help make fertility treatment a little bit easier. My husband and I talked with dozens of people going through treatment, collaborated with fertility specialists and nurses, and listened to not only the struggles that came along with IVF, but all of the different ways people were learning to cope during this challenging journey. We decided to create a line of IVF support products called MyVitro, designed specifically for people going through it, by people who went through it. Each item has been developed through the lens of the community that we found support in.
Here’s what I learned, and what I wish someone had told me before I started IVF.
- It will take up a lot of time, and the less you have on your schedule the better. IVF involves daily injections at home along with multiple blood draws and recurring visits to the clinic for ultrasounds. That is on top of the stress of learning about this new treatment and making decisions as you move forward. Keep your schedule light to leave room for all that this treatment entails.
- Getting organized will help you feel in control. Organize your medications in a way that you can see them easily and always know what you have on hand. Set up a designated area in your house where you will do your shots. Keep a calendar of medications and appointments. Having your medication and supplies clearly organized will give you confidence and a sense of control. MyVitro makes an IVF Support Kit that has everything you need to keep organized and store your valuable IVF medication.
- Get comfortable with giving yourself (or your partner) shots. Your clinic will most likely have you attend an injection class, but it can be a lot of information to take in at once. Ask if you can take videos, and if not there are a number of videos on YouTube that can help you get familiar with your particular medication processes. Practice injecting into a stress ball or one of our injection trainers to get used to what it feels like to give a shot.
- Find your support system. Your friends and family might not understand what you are going through, but I can guarantee they want to. Try opening up and sharing your experience. If you are more comfortable staying anonymous, there are multiple online communities out there to support you. Fertility Rally and Fertility Tribe are two fertility-specific communities you can join. There are sub-Reddits and Instagram hashtags that you can track to find others with your same diagnosis, at the same stage in treatment, or who have had success and give you hope.
- Ask Questions. Feel confident in advocating for yourself with your doctor, nurses, coordinators. If you are heading in for your first appointment, this checklist of questions might be helpful. Many clinics have a nurse on call to answer questions after hours. Don’t be shy or be uncomfortable if you’re stuck at home and don’t know what to do.
The mental toll of IVF can be tough, but there are some things you can do to prepare, both practically and emotionally. No one should have to go through such a huge life change and medical event alone, and whether you are in a couple or being supported by friends, there’s a community of people, myself included, with varied experiences that can support you.