Published by Vanessa Green
December 19, 2022
Published byVanessa Green
December 19, 2022
Like so many experiences in life, it’s hard to know what fertility treatment will be like for you before you go through it.
I naively thought that it “Couldn’t be that hard” despite mountains of evidence that indicate it is incredibly emotionally, physically, financially, and mentally draining – as well as thoroughly taxing on your relationship.
Looking back, it’s clear this denial was just a coping mechanism to avoid dealing with the (very) real challenges that lay ahead of me.
That’s why setting expectations before going down an unknown path like fertility treatment is incredibly helpful. And, having just finished my first round of IVF, I’ve realized that these are a few things I wish I had known before starting my journey.
1. Everyone’s fertility treatment experience is different
Fertility treatment is an incredibly personal experience, from the medications you’ll be prescribed and the side effects you’ll experience to the processes your clinic follows to your chances of success.
I had friends going through IVF at the same time as me who had wildly different experiences. One woman who went to a different clinic in the same city had completely different medications being prescribed to her. Many of the side effects I experienced weren’t shared by other women I spoke to, and some had reactions to drugs that I’d never heard of. Another woman, who lived overseas, said her clinic didn’t offer PGT testing or conduct embryology reports to grade the embryos – something considered almost standard in North America.
I soon learned that because of all these variations in patient needs and how clinics and doctors provide fertility treatments, every single fertility experience is inherently unique.
I had initially assumed that fertility treatment was a routine procedure that followed a defined process with clear outcomes. But nothing could be further from the truth. Had I known that these experiences were individual rather than universal, I would likely have focused less on what happened to others undergoing treatment and paid more attention to my own fertility experience.
2. Fertility treatment statistics require context
Many of us want to make logical sense out of what is, in many ways, a very emotional experience. What are my odds of success with IVF? We want cold, hard data. But the thing is, most fertility statistics include data from fertility patients with various medical issues and infertility factors ranging from mild to severe, which won’t necessarily apply to your specific situation.
These fertility statistics can also be confusing as some are per cycle, while others are per transfer. Someone may only have one embryo to transfer, and it may fail, or they may not have any embryos at all, which means this data skews per cycle rates to be much lower. Without context for these data sets, it can result in a distorted view of overall success rates.
While statistics may seem comforting, they won’t give you an accurate picture of your specific odds of conceiving, which is all that really matters.
3. You’ll need more fertility support than you think
I’m the type of person who thinks I can do everything by myself (spoiler: I can’t), and I thought that my clinic would provide enough support for me throughout my fertility treatment. However, I quickly learned that while clinical teams can provide crucial guidance, most are incredibly busy and aren’t available at all times to answer questions and address concerns about your fertility care.