There are so many variables that can cause IVF stress. I thought sharing some of the common stressors could help you know that you are not alone. Here are the most common worries I had, including some I have heard others comment on:
- Number of follicles. One of the first causes of concern when going through IVF is how many follicles are developing and their sizes. Many people are hoping for 15 perfect size follicles and are discouraged when they end up with 5 or 6. Keep in mind that it only takes one!
2. Fertilization rate / embryo quality. After egg retrieval most patients’ immediately start thinking about the number of eggs that were fertilized, and are often discouraged if they don’t have close to 100 %. Once again, it only takes one! A few days later when you go in for the transfer your mind shifts from fertilization to quality. I was lucky that my doctor never shared the embryo grade or fragmentation with me. I think this would have just been another thing for me to worry about. Most embryos are NOT perfect, it is important to remember this when you find out the quality or grade of your embryos.
3. The dreaded 2ww! If you thought you felt anxious before the transfer, welcome to the 2ww. Just the wait itself can be stressful. Try to keep busy as much as possible, but be sure to follow your doctors recommendations. This is a great time to plan a couple nights out with your hubby. Try to enjoy yourself and keep your mind off the wait.
4. Pregnancy / period symptoms. We IVF patients tend to over analyze everything! Every minor ache or pain must be a sign of something, right? Don’t forget that you are on a variety of hormones and these can cause symptoms mimicking pregnancy or your period. Also, pregnancy itself can mimic an impending period. So, try your best not to think about the cramps you are having or the breast tenderness. Most likely they are caused by the hormones you are taking.
5. Spotting. Any bleeding can be stressful and scary, but it is not always a bad thing. Spotting can be caused my implantation bleeding, a sub chorionic hemorrhage, an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or other factors. Of course you should always call your RE if you are spotting, but don’t give up on your pregnancy. I suffered through 3 miscarriages, and the only pregnancy I had spotting with was my successful one! It turned out to be a bleed on the placenta. It was really scary, but all turned out well.
6. Early HPT results. Just because you can take a pregnancy test 5 days early, doesn’t mean you should. I can’t say that I was able to resist, but I have seen so many people have early negatives, just to go on to have a positive beta. If you cannot resist the temptation of testing early, just know that the results are not certain until you have your blood test.
7. Beta levels. To me this can be the most stressful of all! You have gone through treatment and finally have a positive, but now you have to worry if it is positive enough. If you get a low first beta or a slow rising beta, then you are probably worried if you will miscarry or have a chemical pregnancy. Don’t take me wrong, these are real concerns. But there are many healthy children out there that started out as a low beta!
8. Heartbeat and measurements of embryos. Now that you have survived the beta level game, you are probably getting worried about seeing the heartbeat and your baby measuring on time. The average embryo’s heartbeat is found during the sixth week, but it can be found as late as seven weeks.
These are the top eight concerns I have faced along my journey. I am pretty sure that they are very common among IVF patients. I am not sharing this to worry any newbies, just thought I would let you know that you are not alone in your concerns. To increase your chances of IVF you should be the least stressed as possible, and that means trying to avoid some of these stressors. To learn how to lesson your stress and increase your chances of IVF success, visit the IVF Success Program.
I am not at all saying that these are not real worries. Just saying that there are no “perfect” cycles, and you should try to stay as positive as possible. If you are facing IVF stress you are not alone.