As well as this the financial strain can be huge. As NHS cutbacks are becoming ever more prevalent throughout the UK, more and more people are finding it hard to access IVF, which subsequently means couples are turning to private clinics where costs can be astronomical.
My husband and I are lucky that we live within 30 minutes of our fertility clinic however we were aware from day 1 that an IVF cycle was not going to be cheap. Every consultation, test and scan seemed to have a fee over and above the treatment price and we were worried that the costs would spiral out of control without us being aware of what we were spending.
That’s where a clinic like abc ivf can be invaluable and wish we'd heard of them sooner. Offering the UK’s cheapest IVF, the cost of their treatment packages includes everything you will need throughout the course of your cycle; your medication, scans, tests etc. There are no hidden charges or add-on’s which can be very stressful during an already difficult and emotional period.
Preparing for IVF
Looking back on my first cycle I was terribly naïve and despite knowing the statistics of how rarely first time IVF actually works, I felt sure we would have success. I was nervous yes, but being blissfully unaware of just how hard I would find it, we were full of excitement that very soon we possibly may be pregnant. It was everything we’d wanted for years.
I had been preparing for our first cycle for months; reading all the books I could find on the subject, eating healthily, practising fertility yoga etc. Being prepared is great and if you’re just starting out on the IVF process, I would advise learning as much as you can about IVF and what you can expect from your cycle; it’s good to be familiarised, however, if you’re conducting your research on the internet it’s important to take everything with the proverbial pinch of salt. You will have your own experience, so try not to put too much stock in what others have gone through. IVF is not an exact science; everyone is different and experiences of a cycle will vary; some will find certain moments harder than others, but the best thing you can do is try to stay calm and positive; anything you can do that gives you even a few minutes of relaxation in a day is advisable. I found meditation and mindfulness a much-needed source of calm and a great way to take a few minutes out every day to keep myself focused and centred.
Another key thing I would also advise is asking many questions during your visits to your fertility clinic. During our first round my husband and I felt pretty clueless. Having never been through a cycle before, we just put our trust completely in the clinic without asking too many questions, and whilst we know they had our best interests at heart, I began to feel that they were reluctant to volunteer information; they just told us the bare minimum. Therefore, don’t be scared to speak up and ask anything you want; no question is silly. It’s your cycle and your body so make sure you’re comfortable with everything that will be happening during the process.
What happened to me during IVF treatment
For me, the cycle itself was harder than I expected. The side effects of the hormone injections were tough and a very bloated and tender tummy was well underway by the second week. By the time the date for the egg retrieval arrived I was more than ready to have my eggs removed. However, this was the procedure I had been dreading the most. I’m not going to lie and say the procedure isn’t painful; it is, but the good news is that it is over extremely quickly and you also get very good drugs! Approximately 3 minutes after being administered with a strong painkiller/relaxant I was in a happy state of relaxation and although I could feel the doctor performing the procedure, I was drifting in and out of sleep so it was completely bearable. Again, everyone responds differently and it may not be that everyone has this experience, however you need to be confident enough to speak up and let your fertility team know if you’re in pain and they will do everything they can to make you more comfortable.
Another area that is a constant worry during an IVF cycle is the financial stress. My husband and I were paying privately for our treatment and with our clinic every additional test or consultation carried another fee. This can put a huge strain on an already very stressful time so it’s important to be clear about your costs before commencing your treatment. At abc ivf, the price of IVF treatment is all-inclusive so this is less of a worry.
If I could give any advice to someone just starting out on an IVF cycle it would be to do everything you can to stay positive and calm. It’s so easy to get carried away with worry and anxiety, but you have to try and remember that besides the basics, nothing you can do will influence your IVF. You have to put your faith in your body and allow it to do its job. When I suffered my miscarriage at 8 weeks after my second IVF cycle the question that kept resonating in my mind was “Why us?”. We had come so far, we had actually achieved those elusive two lines on the pregnancy test and then it had been ripped away from us in the cruellest manner. But almost a year later I can see that maybe it was my body trying to tell me something. As hard as it is to accept, evidently it just wasn’t meant to be.
IVF is hard, there’s no two ways about it. It can destroy your confidence and self-belief, it can shatter dreams and wreck your body; but why do we keep doing it? Because fear is only temporary but regret is forever. We have to keep fighting for our dreams.
The situation we are currently in is a cause of concern for everyone, but particularly those who have had to have their fertility treatments put on hold. If you are in this situation and found that to access the things that would normally help you cope is restricted, practicing positive thinking and mindfulness could help with managing any concerns or stress you are currently dealing with.
I know that this is a frustrating time for our patients who have been waiting to start treatment, but we are here to support you as much as possible during this time. Here are a few suggestions that you can do during lockdown so that you are as prepared as possible for when you begin your treatment.