When Twin Daddy and I first started discussing IVF, as well as the initial mixed emotions we found ourselves wanting to know more about the whole process. We felt excited about the prospect of our treatment working, but also scared and anxious in case it didn't work. I found a brilliant forum online which helped us through our treatment. The other members were at hand to offer support, advice and information. I have gone through my posts on the forum from when we started our IVF journey and I have written down all the questions that I had asked in order for me to share them here with you on our blog. I will provide answers to the questions and I have also done a little extra research and have thought of some more questions that you may be wondering the answers to.
Before I continue, I would like to point out for those of you who don't know our story, Twin Daddy and I had ICSI, but most of the questions below will apply across the board regardless of what type of IVF you are undergoing. It's also important to note that we had private treatment, not through the NHS. Please feel free to comment on this post (at the bottom of the page) if you have any questions that you would like to know the answers to and I will endevour to find out the answer for you. You may also want to read my post "IVF Tests for Men and Women" as this will explain about the tests available.
What can I expect to happen at the IVF clinic open evening?
At the open evening in our clinic there were around 10 couples. After everyone had arrived, we were all taken into a room and the staff (embryologist, nurse and consultant) gave a talk about the different types of IVF available and discussed eligibility and success rates. We were invited to ask questions and were then shown around the clinic facilities. At the end of the open evening there was no rush for anyone to leave. We could stay behind and talk to staff about any questions or concerns that we may have had.
What can I expect to happen at our first consultation?
At your first consultation, you should meet your consultant who will discuss what course of treatment is best for you and will provide information about your individual treatment plan. Your will also have to provide a detailed history about yourself and your consultant will also be able to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about your treatment. You will need to blood tests done if you haven't yet them had them, so your consultant may arrange for this to be done during this appointment. If you are not having your treatment on the NHS, you will informed of the predicted cost of your treatment.
What will happen at your follow up consultation?
Your consultant will discuss with you the results of your tests and advise further on the best treatment for you and if any further tests need to be carried out these will be arranged for you.
Treatment Planning Appointment
At your treatment planning appointment you will go over your treatment plan and again you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. You will be required to fill in paperwork such as consent forms and you should also be given some preliminary dates for when your treatment will start. You may also have some more blood tests done. If you haven't already had an ultrasound scan (female only) this may also be carried out today. Your consultant or nurse will explain all the drugs to you. What you will be taken, what they are for and when you should taken them. You will be given a date for when you can expect your drugs to be delivered. (This may be different for NHS patients).
What is down regulating?
Down regulating involves shutting down the pituitary-ovarian hormones. This is done by using either a nasal spray a few times a day or with a daily injection. Down regulation can be started on day 2 or day 21 of a period depending on whether you are on a long or short protocol (more information about protocols can be found below). It takes around two weeks for down regulation to be complete and an ultrasound scan is taken to confirm this by looking at the uterine lining to see how thin it is and your ovaries will be also checked. You may also have a blood test to check the level of oestrdiol (hormone).
What is ovarian stimulation?
Once down regulation is complete you will start daily injections for around 12-16 days. Put simply ovarian stimulation involves stimulating the ovaries to produce follicles and eggs.
Long or short protocol?
Long protocol involves down regulaton (see above). A short protocol usually matches with your normal cycle and is around 4 weeks long in comparison with 6 weeks for a long protocol. A short protocol is usually used when a woman has poor ovarian reserve or when she is an older female. To determine your ovarian reserve you will have an AMH test. The main difference between a short and long protocol is that the short protocol skips the down regulating process and goes straight to the stimulating stage.
What is egg collection?
Egg collection is around 36 hours after your HCG (trigger) injection. It's performed vaginally with ultrasound guidance. A needle is attached to a probe and then passed through the vagina into the ovary. Fluid from an ovarian follicle is aspirated and then passed immediately to the embryologist who will use a microscope to identify the egg in the fluid. Once an egg has been found, the needle is moved to the next follicle and the procedure is repeated. Not all follicles will contain an egg.
What is embryo transfer?
|Our embryos following our transfer|
What is the two week wait?
After embryo transfer you will need to wait a minimum of two weeks before taking a pregnancy test.
You might also find my post, "The Power of Positive Thinking of IVF" interesting to read.