In vitro fertilization: 12 questions to ask before beginning an IVF treatment
Fertility issues can be stressful and make one feel anxious. This nervousness in regards to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment is usually caused by lack of familiarity with the process but asking the right questions like these can help alleviate your fears and make your IVF journey much easier
In India, many Bollywood celebrities, authors and journalists, who are considered as influencers, have opted for eggs freezing option and also motivated many others to do so which has made in vitro fertilization or IVF into practically a household word. It involves combining eggs and sperm outside the body in a laboratory and is the most common form of assisted reproductive technology which is used in the management of patients with difficulty undergoing conception.
According to a research published in WebMD, IVF treatment is never the first step in the treatment of infertility except in cases of complete tubal blockage. Instead, it is reserved for cases in which other methods such as fertility drugs, surgery and artificial insemination haven't worked.
Finding out that you or your partner may be having fertility issues can be stressful which can make one feel anxious. This nervousness in regards to IVF treatment is usually caused by lack of familiarity with the process but asking the right questions can help alleviate your fears and make your IVF journey much easier.
Dr Kiran Coelho, Consultant of Gynaecology and Obstetrics at PD Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Khar Facility and Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and Co-founder of Indira IVF spill the beans on 12 significant questions to ask before beginning an IVF treatment.
1. Why are they undergoing IVF?
Consider a couple that has been recommended to do IVF. So the first thing they must ask the IVF specialist is, "Why are they undergoing IVF?" Is it due to sperm factor since the sperm count is low? Is it the result of several failed attempts or what we call unexplained infertility? Is it because the tubes are blocked, there is endometriosis, or advanced age? It is important to understand the indication. Then one can ask: Is IVF really necessary or can intrauterine insemination be performed if it's just a question of lack ovulation?
2. What tests need to be performed before starting the IVF treatment?
These tests will be undertaken to evaluate your heath - blood sugar level, check blood group, presence of sexually transmitted infections and liver damage among others.
For women, the doctor will make sure that your body is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to full term. They may be required to undertake a series of tests to rule out PCOS, ovulation status, and ovarian reserve. Men may also undergo a series and semen analysis before starting IVF treatment.
3. What type of IVF will be performed.?
Is it a short-cycle IVF or a long-cycle IVF? There are different types of stimulation. In a short cycle, the stimulation is short, fewer eggs are produced, and IVF is performed. In a long cycle, the woman takes the medicines for a longer time and get more eggs.
4. What is the success rate of your facility in terms of live births and pregnancy rates?
The IVF specialist should be able to provide a general sense of whether or not the treatment is likely to work based on your disease history, fertility rate, blood tests, weight and overall health.
5. Fresh Embryos or Frozen Embryos: Which Is Better?
It's a matter of determining the most viable option for you. Both procedures can result in a clinical pregnancy depending on the case.
6. Is there anything I can do to increase my chances of having a successful IVF cycle?
Your doctor will make more specific recommendations based on your personal medical history, but there are a few things you may do to increase your chances. For example- doing low intensity exercise, eating well, maintaining healthy weight and BMI for your age and height.
7. Are you going to do pre-genetic diagnosis of the embryos?
Are you going to do pre genetic diagnosis of the embryos? Suppose there's some genetic or inheritable disorder or the mother’s age is old, then are you going to do pre-genetic diagnosis? This means that the embryo itself is genetically screened.
8. Will you implant the embryo in the same cycle that you're stimulated or will you freeze the embryos and then transplant?
This is commonly known as FET or frozen embryo transfer. Presently the majority of people are undergoing FET they are not transferring the embryo within the same cycle.
9. What other lifestyle changes should be made?
Increase intake of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and smoking hamper the reproductive health. Therefore, it is advised to strictly keep off smoking and alcohol. Also ensure to keep your stress levels low because high cortisol (stress hormone) levels can make it difficult to conceive.
10. What are the possible side effects or issues that one should be aware of or is IVF treatment going to worsen my condition?
In women with PCOS, Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a possibility. Some women may also experience minor side effects such as fluid discharge, mild cramps, bloating, and constipation due to regular hormonal injections. If you experience any unusual symptoms such as fever, severe abdominal discomfort, headache, swelling, or redness in your legs, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Is it going to predispose to cancer of the ovary or are the hormonal effects going to be permanent. In other words, what are the long term effects of IVF treatment?
11. What happens if the treatment doesn't work?
While, advanced technology has resulted in more couples conceiving in the first cycle itself, the success rate of IVF is not 100 per cent. If first cycle of IVF may not result in a pregnancy, you may be able to attempt again at a later period, depending on the cause of the treatment's failure.
12. What is the cost of IVF treatment?
Inquire with your doctor about the specifics of what is included in each treatment cycle as well as any additional costs on medicines, surgeries and if they have any instalment options and other schemes to ease the financial burden.
Some other important questions include: how many eggs do you expect to take out with each cycle? How many embryos will we get and when will you transfer the embryo at three or five cells? What will you do with the remaining embryos? Are you going to store the blastocyst. If so, how long will you keep it and how much will it cost? The doctors pointed out that important questions regarding the foetus should be: What are the chances that you can take the baby home in healthy condition? What are the chances of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and abnormality in the foetus?