Understanding IUI and IVF- Gain Knowledge for Your Infertility Journey
You’ve come to terms with your infertility and it finally feels “ok” to move forward. So now what? There are so many choices, and decisions to make when it comes to your journey. And of course, they seem overwhelming, confusing and maybe even a bit surreal. But you’re reading this for a reason. You want to move forward and gain knowledge that’ll help you understand what may lie ahead.
If your doctor has suggested IUI or maybe IVF it’s important to understand the difference and prepare your mind and body for the process. Let’s dive deeper into each of these choices and feel a bit more secure and knowledgeable for what’s to come.
IUI- What is it, Why it’s done and How to Prepare
Regardless of the why of your infertility, you and your partner are having trouble getting pregnant. Right up front, know you’re not alone. The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and acknowledge that. More than six million women in the United States struggle with infertility so there’s nothing to feel ashamed about or feel as if you’re inferior to others.
The moment you let go of those feelings and decide to move forward, the more relaxed and at peace your mind and body will be. Aside from talking with your doctor, you may also decide to turn towards therapy to help resolve feelings of worry, anxiety or self-doubt. Once you do this, you’ll be able to heal and find comfort. Therapy helps with navigating your journey, working through your questions and gives you tools to cope and continue on.
If your doctor has suggested IUI or intrauterine insemination then it’s important to be educated about it so you can prepare your body the right way. IUI is an artificial type of insemination. Often times those that experience or need the following use it as a first options-
Been diagnosed with endometriosis
Have mild male infertility
Cervical factor infertility
Perhaps you and your partner have been actively trying to get pregnant without success but a true diagnosis for infertility hasn’t been outlined. IUI is often the first treatment plan along with ovulation-inducing medication to attempt pregnancy. The same idea relates if you’ve been diagnosed with endometriosis. IUI and the use of fertility medications help obtain good-quality eggs and are performed to achieve (fingers crossed) a pregnancy. Regardless, the goal of IUI is for sperm to travel up the fallopian tube and fertilize a waiting egg. Also depending on your situation, IUI will be coordinated with your normal cycle or fertility medications to achieve pregnancy.
Now that you’re aware of what IUI is and who it’s often recommended to, it’s time to think about preparing.
IUI is a relatively simple and safe procedure, but of course like anything else there are some risks associated. But don’t worry, with IUI, risks are low. Some may include spotting, a slight risk of infection and when working in conjunction with fertility medication- multiple pregnancy. When preparing your body for IUI, make sure to get plenty of rest and give your body some tender-loving care. Self-care is essential these days especially when faced with the stress that comes with infertility. Give yourself a break, and make sure to lean on those around you who love and care for you most.
Meditation, therapy and of course maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you feel more at ease with your unique situation and the outcome. You should always consult your doctor for self-care suggestions and tips keeping your unique situation in mind.
Now moving on to the procedure. The day of your procedure you’ll be asked to visit your doctor’s office or fertility clinic. Expect to spend about 20-30 minutes there. While the actual procedure itself takes only a few minutes, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time. Most likely you won’t have to worry about taking pain medications (unless your doctor recommends), as the procedure truly is simple. Once your nurse or doctor has completed the procedure, you’ll lie on your back for a few minutes, get dressed and be out the door.
Following your IUI, and just like when trying to achieve a pregnancy on your own, it’s best to try and be patient while waiting on your Beta results. Yes, it’s hard to wait but occupy yourself with some self-care, relaxation and being around those who love you most.
IVF- Understand it and Know What to Expect
Even if you’re new to the infertility world I bet you’ve still heard of IVF. IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is a more complex set of procedures when compared to IUI but is still used to help with fertility and assist with the conception of a child. IVF is known to be one of the most successful methods of reproductive technology and can be done using a couple’s own eggs and sperm or if need be, a donor. IVF is more time consuming and more costly than IUI but if you’ve tried IUI without success, IVF may be your next step (pending your doctor’s suggested plan).
Who is this procedure recommended for?
If you’re over the age of 40 and have not had success with conception
Have fallopian tube damage or blockage
The list does go on and on, which is why it’s important to speak with your doctor and make sure together you’ve come up with a plan for your unique journey.
If you and your doctor have decided that IVF will be your next step, chances are your emotions are doing somersaults! This whole process is not easy and most likely you’re filled with thoughts and emotions that may benefit from guidance. That’s where therapy comes into play. Therapy helps you work through these emotions and make your journey more manageable.
As you prepare for your IVF procedure, you and your partner most likely will be asked to go through a variety of screenings. These screenings help your doctor know which avenue to take and what types of medications will best fit your needs. Testing can also help determine the quality of your eggs, analyze your partner’s semen, and examine the interior of your uterus. All important during the process. Make sure as well that you’re ready to ask questions prior to starting your IVF cycle. Questions such as-
How many eggs will be transferred?
What will you do with extra eggs?
What happens if a multiple pregnancy conceives?
Are there complications?
Each of these being essential to better your knowledge and make you feel more at ease going into your cycle. Once these incidentals are taken care of you’re ready to begin. Your IVF cycle starts with ovulation induction; this process involves using synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Typically one egg is produced each month on a normal cycle but with IVF some eggs won’t fertilize so multiple are needed. On average it will take about one to two weeks for ovarian stimulation before your eggs are then retrieved. Step two!
After ovarian stimulation comes egg retrieval. This next step can be done in your doctor’s office approximately 36 hours after your last injection before ovulation. You’ll be sedated and given pain medication during retrieval. Once removed, mature eggs are placed in a cultured medium and incubated. Healthy eggs will be mixed with sperm to attempt creation of an embryo.
Once your embryos are ready for transfer, you’ll revisit your doctor for embryo transfer. If successful, an embryo will implant about six to 10 days after your egg retrieval. In the meantime it’s best to put yourself first and relax, meditate and care for your mind and body. You can resume your normal daily activities but remember, you’re fostering the implantation of a beautiful child, so take it easy.
No matter the outcome of these procedures, always remember you’re brave and strong. IUI and IVF are never guaranteed but one thing is for sure. Your life, and journey are yours so believe in them and take solace in knowing how amazing you are.