1. As soon as I say “IVF” the first thing that comes to mind for many people is a long needle that goes in the tushy. You will take injections to get your eggs to grow but they are small short needles that go in the skin of your tummy. If you have a hard time with the idea of giving yourself shots or don’t have someone who will help, I will do your injections for you happily.
2.The weight gain is really really annoying. The injections are calorie-free (ha ha) but you may feel more bloated and hungrier than usual.
3. We don’t prescribe birth control pills at the start of your cycle because we are trying to prevent pregnancy. We use birth controls as “IVF readiness pills.” I wish they could be labeled that way because I get the funniest looks when I start talking about taking birth control for some (not all) IVF protocols. And then you should know that it’s totally normal to spot on the pill (we call that breakthrough bleeding). And then……………………….
4. You’ll get another period after you stop the pills before you start shots. Confused? Don’t be! The hormones basically take over your cycle so your doctor can collect your eggs at their time of maximal awesomeness. This means your egg retrieval day is basically your “ovulation day” and you will get a period about 10 days later. Your doc has aspirated the cells that secrete estrogen and progesterone so if you’re planning a frozen transfer and are not taking hormone replacement, your period will come earlier than you’re used to and that’s totally okay.
5. You’re going to feel symptoms of ovulation: egg white cervical mucus and little twinges in your ovaries as your follicles grow but you’re not really ovulating. The reason why you sense the same discharge during IVF as you do around ovulation is because of the body’s response to a rise in estrogen. It isn’t unusual for me to get panicked calls from patients worried that they’re “losing my eggs and ovulating.” Don’t worry. It’s all normal!
6. Even though you had the fluid in your follicles drained during the egg retrieval, you may still feel bloated and have what feels like gas pain after the procedure. Over time the swelling in your ovaries will go down and you will most likely feel better once your period starts (assuming you’re doing a frozen embryo transfer).
7. The emotional ups and downs are harder than the physical stuff. Make sure you have the support you need from the beginning. Let go as much as you can. Realize that you can only do your best and the outcome is out of your control.
Photos of Dr. Nikki used with permission.