I’ve put together this handly little guide for anyone who’s about to start IVF or anyone that’s even curious as to what it’s all about. I imagine this guide will become so successful that in the near future it will become compulsory reading in all clinics.
Bear in mind, I’m an NHS funded IVFer so some of my experiences differ, although most will still be roughly the same (especially the dreaded pessaries – more on them later)
1. How many? NHS in Scotland offer 3 fully funded tries. Once you have your baby (whether that be first, second or third attempt) you don’t get any more shots at it. You’re free to take your eggs (if you have any) to a private clinic though.
2. The wait. From my GP referral to my first transfer date, the whole process took about a year. Most of the early stuff is filled with paperwork and having blood taken (seriously, the blood thing gets old). The juicy stuff starts around 9,10 months in.
3. Injections. There’s a few different types you take and I’ll be sure to list all the boring technical rubbish at the bottom. I was dreading these. For a reasonably heavily tattooed woman, I fucking hate needles. But actually, they were fine. I managed to do most myself and I barely felt them. You might get bruising but it’s nothing to worry about. Tip: It’s easier if you sit down and give yourself a little jelly belly so you can pinch easier.
4. Injections. Yup injections again because I lied a little. Not ALL are as nice as each other. “Clexane” is a blood thinning little shit and I shall refer to it as “him” because that’s how much of an irritating little shit he was. Like a little brother or rebound ex boyfriend that you dumped as soon as the alcohol wore off. He stings and itches like hell. Just remember he’s not permanent and you can rejoice by throwing him away the second he’s served his purpose.
5. Don’t make plans. If you do, be prepared to either change them or postpone your treatment. We flew to Greece on the day I was supposed to start my injections so our date had to be pushed back a month. We’ve also had to cancel birthday parties and lunch plans because of IVF. A lot of appointments are last minute and follow-ups depend on how you respond to treatment so there’s not always definite dates for you to follow.
6. Be prepared. If there’s something you really CAN’T cancel, then be prepared to find yourself in the most obscure situations – cue standing in a (hopefully) deserted hallway of a very fancy wedding venue while lifting a floor length fishtail gown up to your armpits while your partner whips out the needle and shoves it in. *cough* “That’s what she said”
7. Egg Retrieval. Admittedly I was shitting myself for retrieval and the aftermath. The process itself was painless (it obviously helped that I was out my face on drugs – the prescribed kind of course) but afterwards I did have a little pain. My tummy was tender and I felt huge. I spent the day in bed feeling sorry for myself, but was back to normal 2 days later. I was lucky enough to have enough egg reserve that I won’t need to retrieve anymore anytime soon.
8. Side effects. Either I didn’t suffer too much or I’m already a crazy bitch but whatever the reason, I didn’t find the side effects too bad. The bloating was pretty bad and I had a few days here and there where I felt a little low or a little short tempered but honestly no more than my usual PMS (again maybe this is dependant on what I took so I’ll add it at the bottom). I was expecting the worst but what I got was far from that. Really, I was a little angel. Hubby would agree, right babe?
9. Transfer. I loved this part. For me, it was the most exciting part of the process. We watched as our embryo was implanted in and got to watch the entire process. It was completely painless before, during and after. Whatever happens through your whole IVF experience, I guarantee you will look back at that moment fondly.
10. Pessaries. The thing you definitely won’t look back at fondly. I like to refer to them as “The Devil’s little hand maidens”. My husband has helped clean me after a miscarriage; he has removed vomit soaked clothing after too much wine and I’ll hold my hands up – he’s seen me poop – but the pessaries are even too much for him to witness. You pop them up your bits (a bit like a tampon, although a tampon doesn’t shed it’s skin on to your pants 30 seconds later). I often imagine an alternate universe where Clexane and Pessaries are sharing a bottle of wine and laughing hysterically at the shit they do to us. The little bastards. Tips for pessaries: wear a pad, not a panty liner because no matter what Google says, a panty liner is no fucking good. Don’t wear good pants unless you want them forever caked in white plastic discharge. NEVER show your partner (trust me, they don’t want to see it). Some people will recommend going through the back door but to be honest both options are equally crappy (scuse the pun)
Now that you have my handy tips on how to get through it, I hope you’ll all enjoy your IVF journey. It might be a royal pain in the arse at times but I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been, and continues to be an amazing experience.
The boring stuff:
Injections: menopur 150 twice a day. Cetrotide 0.25 once a day taking the place of the evening menopur dose. Clexane (not used in ALL fresh cycles but I have a history of RMC). Once a day.
Tablets: frozen cycle I was on 6mg of progynova (2mg 3x a day)
Nasal spray: frozen cycle I had to take this 4 times a day at specific times. It replaces an injection but unfortunately tastes like shit.
Booster injection: ovitrelle. One injection at a specific time.
Pessaries: cyclogest 400mg. Twice a day. The bastards.