In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of our most advanced and successful forms of fertility treatment today; however, the IVF journey is not without its challenges, and treatment can impact individuals in different ways. Some will end up needing to pursue IVF because of advanced age, a medical or genetic diagnosis, or after failing other forms of fertility treatment.
Below I discuss some of the most common questions that I receive from people considering in-vitro fertilization, weighing the medical, physical, mental, lifestyle, and financial impacts of IVF treatment.
One of the most common questions that I receive is whether or not IVF will increase one’s risk of developing reproductive cancers or speed up the timing of when one goes into menopause. The good news is – No! IVF treatment does not increase one’s risk of developing breast, uterine, ovarian, or cervical cancer. Treatment also does not speed up the onset of menopause or cause women to lose their eggs more quickly than normal.
During in vitro fertilization treatment, it is not uncommon to experience temporary mood changes, breast tenderness, headache, abdominal bloating, or mild nausea. Some may also develop bruising at their injection site.
Fertility treatment can often take a toll on one’s mental health. Every treatment cycle may not work. Sometimes a miscarriage occurs. And in most cases, the 2-week wait is often an anxiety-provoking period. Many people find that having a good support system in the forms of a therapist, partner, family, friends, or even a fertility support group, makes the fertility journey more bearable. Developing a self-care routine may also help to minimize the stress of the journey.
During IVF treatment, one’s ovaries become enlarged. Most clinics recommend that patients do not engage in high-impact exercise such as running, jumping, spinning, to avoid ovarian torsion (the ovary twisting on its blood supply).
There isn’t a particular IVF diet that one needs to follow; however, it is always important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and easily absorbable protein. It is also important to increase one’s water intake during treatment and minimize the consumption of simple sugars including juices, and sodas.
The cost of IVF varies by region. There are also different treatment protocols that can influence the total cost. A standard IVF cycle can range between $10,000 – $20,000. Medications are often charged separately and can range between $3,000 – $5,000. If treatment is not covered through one’s medical insurance, there are some fertility groups that provide fertility grants to support families in pursuing IVF. In addition, some fertility clinics also provide different financing options.
Dr. Okeigwe is a compassionate reproductive endocrinology and infertility expert who specializes in advanced fertility care. She is a Bay Area native and completed her undergraduate degree and Masters in Public Health at UC Berkeley. She attended medical school at UCSF before advancing to her residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology at Boston University Medical Center. Dr. Okeigwe then completed her fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Northwestern University. Dr. Okeigwe joined Spring Fertility from the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group and is looking forward to continuing to provide exceptional, patient-centered fertility care in the East Bay.