By Dr. Armando Hernandez-Rey
The Four Steps You Should Take When Starting IVF to Increase Your Chances of Success.
Making that first appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI) can be nerve wracking and sometimes feel lonely. While estimates vary, infertility affects about 1 in 8 couples, and 1,000,000 babies were born in the US using IVF and other Assisted Reproductive Technologies in 2015 alone. So patients should know: the process works for most couples and you are definitely not alone. Read on for some other things you should do as you begin fertility treatments to increase your chances of success.
1. Do your research.
The first step is to check the reputation of the practice- including both the physician as well as the quality of the lab.
While most patients are referred to an infertility specialist by their obstetrician, be proactive on the initial visit and ask about success rates, specifically about patients in your age range and with your same condition.
Another key question is to ask about the quality of the lab. The best indicator for the quality of a lab and the fairest way to compare labs is by reviewing the success rates among donor egg patients, as this eliminates variations for age and severity of conditions.
Lastly, trust your instincts. Feeling the doctor is listening to you and cares about you can be just as important as statistics.
2. Be your own advocate and ask about the latest technologies on the market.
Prospective parents should also know that there are new technologies, equipment and protocols that can improve your chances of getting pregnant. For example, more advanced genetic testing can be done on the parents before they begin trying or on the embryos themselves after patients have begun the IVF process. In addition, new technologies and equipment in the lab can increase pregnancy rates. Look for a lab that has made investments in the newest technologies. For example, LifeAire has increased pregnancy rates by nearly 20% in studies across 3500+ cycles at various centers across the country. We are proud that Conceptions is the only laboratory in Florida with the LifeAire system.
3. Be prepared for the emotional, physical and financial effects of the IVF process.
There is definitely a large emotional component for both men and women. Anxiety about the emotional and financial investment you are making is normal. Add in the hormones which are an essential part of the treatment for women and you can expect some highs and lows. However, across the board, we have seen significant increases in pregnancy rates, with many patients getting pregnant on the first round of IVF. We share this with the hope it gives our patients a sense of calm and confidence in the process and in us.
Plan to invest your time. The process is time consuming. Conceptions tries to minimize the time commitment by having extra staff early in the morning so our patients who are in cycle can come in and out for monitoring and head off as quickly as possible- to work, carpool and other life commitments. Try to get the support you need or make accommodations at work for the couple of weeks where you are in cycle.
Remember it is often a joint time commitment with the partner administering the injections. This can lead to tense moments: my sister-in-law still jokes about the time she had to lift her bridesmaid dress for her husband to give her an injection in the parking lot of a wedding venue. The good news is they can laugh about it now.
There are also many support groups on line, in person, and on social media that can offer comfort and humor (but not medical advice, please!) to help you through the process.
4. Follow the protocol to increase your chances of success.
Following the protocol and medical instructions EXACTLY is a key commitment. This process requires planning ahead and always checking that you have sufficient medication on hand.
You or your partner also need to feel confident about administering the medication. Our doctors and staff are available for questions and encourage you to reach out when you are unsure or need support. So finding an office where both the staff and the doctor are attentive and approachable is extremely important.
So, to summarize. What to do when you are starting IVF:
- Have confidence in your doctor and staff by knowing the success rate of your lab and trusting your instincts after your initial consultation.
- Be your own advocate and ask about the latest technologies on the market- like LifeAire.
- Prepare yourself as much as possible financially for the expenses; physically for the time commitment; and emotionally for the highs and lows.
- Follow the plan! IVF success rates are rising, so you can have confidence in the process. involved are key factors in preparing for IVF.
But most of all, have hope. Medical science and your doctor are on your side.
Dr. Armando Hernandez-Rey is a board certified reproductive endorcrinologist. Dr. Hernandez-Rey founded Conceptions Florida to offer his patients personal attention with the most cutting edge technology. He specializes in treating patients with PCOS, endometriosis, low ovarian reserve, advanced maternal age, and male factor infertility. He is also one of only two fertility specialists in Miami Dade offering his patients robotic surgery to treat fibroids (known as a myomectomy) and endometriosis as well as tubal ligation reversals.