It is only natural for a woman or anyone for that matter of fact to fear a medical treatment that involves a lot of medication and procedures. Every treatment has side effects and risks. Before delving into the side effects and the risks, it is worthwhile first studying the risk probability. In simple terms, this means how many women actually suffer from these side effects and risks. You will find that the percentage is very low. Usually, complications do not happen to healthy people, but those with previous health issues that doctors are already aware of.
It is essential for a woman to start donning a healthy lifestyle at least 3 to 6 months before starting fertility treatment. A healthy lifestyle entails a good nutritious diet, regular exercise, avoid smoking, drinking and drugs, quit eating junk foods and unhealthy foods including cold drinks, practice stress-relieving techniques, and ensure you get an adequate restful sleep at night. When your body is healthy, you have a better chance of IVF success.
FEARS RELATED TO IVF TREATMENT
The thought of undergoing a medical treatment that is prolonged over a number of weeks or months can be daunting. Women are immediately filled with fear as soon as they learn of the treatment and what it entails. Some of the greatest fears that concern women about IVF treatment are:
Injection phobia: IVF does involve a lot of needles, and if you are scared of needles, then there is nothing that you can really do to face this fear. Finer and smaller needles ensure that the pain of the prick is minimised as much as possible. In fact, in most cases it is not the small prick that hurts so much, but your fear that is so big and magnified. If the nurse is skilled and keeps you talking you won’t even know when you’ve had your shot. It is always better you inform the nurse that you have a fear of injections. Don’t worry, and they are used to it because many women and men for that matter are very scared of taking injections. You cannot avoid the injections during your IVF treatment, but the nurse can make it easier for you by distracting you and ensuring that you don’t feel the prick.
The pain of egg retrieval: When you read about the procedure of egg retrieval, it can be quite horrifying. The doctors probe a long needle around your ovaries looking for mature eggs. It definitely must be a very painful procedure. The good news is that you will never know how painful or painless it was. The patient is given general anaesthesia before the egg retrieval procedure is carried out. There is no way the doctors can direct the needle to the mature follicles in your ovaries with you squirming on the operating table. This is a high precision procedure that is over within half an hour. After you recover, you may feel a bit of cramping due to the egg retrieval procedure. This is normal and something that you also experience during ovulation. Nothing different just the same feeling that you are used to every month. The cramping will only last for an hour or so.
Concern regarding taking hormones: The awareness that taking hormones and steroids can cause you a lot of harm and have adverse side effects makes women shirk at the thought of hormone injections during IVF. This is quite a relevant concern, and you should discuss this with your doctor in great detail until you are convinced of the need to take these injections, and that will do you no harm, or maybe your doctor will prescribe alternate medication to perform the same task which will make you feel much comfortable. The hormones that are given to you during your IVF treatment are the same hormones that your body produces. The only difference is that it is being administered in a slightly large amount so that more eggs mature rather than the usual one that happens every month.
OHSS side effects: Some women suffer from side effects due to the stimulation of the ovaries. Ovarian stimulation is conducted so that a larger number of eggs can mature. The side effects of the OHSS are similar to that of your period, which involves some cramping pain in the abdominal area, moodiness, possible nausea and lightheadedness. You can ask your doctor for some medication to reduce the pain if you want. These side effect symptoms may last for a week or so.
Multiple pregnancies: The story of Octo Mom remains in the memory of many people. This was an incident where an IVF patient in the earlier days, got pregnant with octuplets and gave birth to 8 tiny premature babies. IVF patients are happy to have twins and even triplets, but that is about as far as it goes. Fortunately, today, doctors do not take the risks of multiple pregnancies. The number of embryos transferred to the uterus is discussed with the couple before the procedure takes place. Usually, for a blastocyst transfer a doctor may recommend 2 embryos or 3 depending on the patient’s age. For a day three transfer the number of embryos is not more than 3. Gone are the days where doctors transferred 6, 8 or even 10 embryos at one time.
Anaesthesia fears: This may sound illogical, but the cinema has led people to believe that not all patients wake up when given anaesthesia. This can be a very genuine fear and one that is difficult to deal with. This stems from ignorance and lack of awareness. However, the only way to prove that people do wake up from anaesthesia is by talking to people who have undergone surgery or general anaesthesia and have had no problem whatsoever. It makes sense to read about the statistics of people who never woke up from their anaesthesia and understand that it had nothing to do with the anaesthesia but was due to their medical condition that they never made it. Anaesthesia just makes you sleep, and even an overdose will not lead to death.
Premature menopause: Many women are concerned about their ovarian reserve. For the IVF egg retrieval procedure, a large number of eggs are removed. They are worried that this might deplete their ovarian reserve faster and cause them to come into premature menopause. This is not entirely true. During each ovulation cycle, the ovaries begin to mature about 5 eggs, of which only one is used, and the others discarded. The IVF ovarian stimulation retrieves these eggs which would otherwise have been lost.
Ovarian cancer: The concern among some women is the increased risk of ovarian cancer due to ovarian stimulation. However, studies have shown that there is no link between the two. Women who have IVF babies with the help of ovarian stimulation have lived healthy lives without any trace of ovarian cancer.
Fears are a natural part of human nature, and the thought of IVF treatment and all you have to go through can be quite overwhelming. It is an emotional journey which requires the support of your partner, family members and doctor. Once you are through with your IVF treatment, you will be an emotionally stronger person who is not scared of injections or medical procedures any more.
OVERCOMING IVF TREATMENT FEARS
How do you overcome your fears? There is nothing that anyone can say that can actually convince you that it is going to be okay. Some of the things that might help you are:
Get your fears in perspective: Make a list of your fears, write them down on a paper. Go over each one and check whether it is an assumption or a fact. For example, the fear of injections is valid, but fear of the possible reaction to hormone medication is an assumption. The likelihood of it occurring is small, and in your rational mind, you are quite well aware that this thought has no proper base. Once you have got your fears rationalised you will still have a few of them to worry about.
Discuss your concerns with your fertility consultant: Once you have downsized your list of fears to valid ones, you can discuss them with your doctor. Don’t worry about looking foolish or what the doctor may think of you. At this moment, your fears and the impending IVF treatment should be your focus. Discuss each fear in detail until you are satisfied. Don’t avoid talking about any concern because you felt that it was silly. This nagging fear will traumatise you as your IVF treatment starts.
Talk to other IVF moms: Talking to other women who have had IVF babies is the best way to understand what exactly goes on and how it feels. You can get a first-hand account of the treatment, the different procedures, and what each one entails. Discussing your apprehensions with someone who has already gone through the experience is the best way to relieve your fears. Talk to a number of IVF moms to get a better understanding and a broader perspective. These moms can advise you on what to expect, what you should do, and how to react. They can tell you what precautions to take and let you learn from their experience and mistakes.
Talking to moms who have gone through the IVF experience is one of the best ways to calm your fears and brace yourself for what is to come. It also gives you added courage knowing that if they could do it, you can do it too.
Shobha was petrified of the IVF treatment and was not willing to corporate with the doctors at all. She had a total mental block and would not even talk about it. The family were very keen for a child, and Shobha didn’t have much say in the matter. The Medicover doctors were not willing to work with a hostile patient. The fertility doctor took some time out to explain the whole IVF treatment procedure to her. She did open up a bit but was still not convinced about undergoing the treatment. During one doctor's appointment, Shobha was asked to wait at the reception area while the doctor discussed some matters with the rest of the family. In the meanwhile, Shobha got talking with another lady who had just had her IVF procedure and was pregnant. Shobha discussed her fears and concerns. And soon another patient who was also recently pregnant joined their conversation. This enabled Shobha to get a good insight into what actually happened. They told Shobha how to prepare for each step of the treatment. This conversation had an amazing effect on Shobha, and the fact that both ladies were pregnant made Shobha eager to undergo the IVF treatment as soon as possible. This was a wonderful and positive change that had taken place. All Shobha required was a first-hand account of what to expect.
Some women, especially from the more conservative sections of society, do not speak and confess their thoughts but rather hold it all within themselves. Convincing them of something they do not accept is as difficult as making them do something they do not want to. Getting them to talk about their fears is the toughest task of all. But there are always ways around every problem.
FEAR OF IVF FAILURE
Are you too scared to try IVF treatment, in case, it might fail? This is quite normal and nothing to feel ashamed about. There are social concerns and anxieties about what people will think if you are not pregnant after so many months of treatment. IVF failure is not the end of the road. There is always another try and another. Just because your first attempt was not successful, there is no point giving up.
IVF has a good success rate, and with advanced fertility treatment, you can improve your chances of success even further. As per statistics, the number of women who experience IVF success during the first try itself is 30%. So that gives you a pretty good shot if you have a generally healthy lifestyle.
In case your first IVF attempt does not succeed, you will be glad to know that the IVF success rate goes up to 70% by the 3rd try. This means that you have a very high probability of being pregnant by your second or third IVF cycle.
Everyone faces failure in different areas of life. It is never always a win-win situation no matter what you do. So the fear of IVF failure is not the worst thing that could happen to you. Fortunately, you can keep trying until you have a baby. It is always advisable to have your IVF treatment in a good and reputed fertility clinic. It may cost you a little more, but you can be mentally at peace that you are getting the best treatment. Medicover Fertility Clinic has a very high IVF success rate and has been recognised as India’s leading fertility chain. Medicover specialises in fertility treatment and has a team of in-house fertility specialists who are internationally certified.
FEAR OF IVF COSTS
There is no limit to the costs associated with medical treatment. There is always some additional medication that is required, and you never know how much it is going to cost until the chemist presents you with a bill. Usually, the medication prescribed by doctors in such situations is quite expensive.
Fertility clinics may give you a cost estimate, but you can be sure that your expense will go at least 25% over that by the end of the treatment. It is better to be prepared for the additional cost from the start rather than to be caught off-guard and left to arrange the money at the last moment.
Medicover offers its patients an interest-free EMI facility, which makes it lighter on the pocket. However, this is on the package cost, which includes the treatment, hospital expenses, doctor’s consultation and basic medication. You will be required to pay separately for other medication required for the IVF treatment.
As far as possible include your close family member in this decision for IVF and have them around not just for emotional support but also financial support in case you need additional funds.
MEDICOVER FERTILITY HELPS WOMEN OVERCOME THEIR FEARS
Individualised patient care is an integral part of the Medicover Fertility service to patients. Fertility consultants understand that women have concerns, and it is important to address these matters before proceeding with treatment. Gaining the trust and confidence of the patient helps to deliver a better outcome of the IVF treatment.
Medicover Fertility Clinic utilises advanced fertility techniques, which helps in higher IVF success rates. The international standard of treatment ensures that patients are treated with the utmost care and get the best facilities. Medicover is part of a European healthcare group and maintains high standards of treatment.
Q: Can I get cancer with the strong drugs and hormone injections given for IVF treatment?
A: Medical research has found that there is no correlation between ovarian cancer or any cancer and IVF treatment medication. The hormone injections do not cause cancer, and neither do medicines.
Q: What happens if my IVF treatment fails?
A: The best option is to try again as you have a much higher chance of getting pregnant during the second attempt and even more so during the third IVF cycle.
Q: Will ovarian stimulation cause early menopause?
A: Researchers believe that it will not have much effect on when you would normally get your menopause. Ovarian stimulation doesn’t deplete your ovarian reserve.
Q: Is IVF painful?
A: IVF involves a number of different stages of treatment. None of them is painful as such.