How to Create a Positive in Vitro Fertilization Experience

Three Methods:Communicating Openly and HonestlyTaking Care of YourselfGathering Information

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of many ways to start a family. With 1 in 6 couples currently facing fertility issues, IVF numbers continue to rise.[1] To create a positive IVF experience it is important to watch out for your own physical and emotional needs throughout the process. Learn everything that you can about the individual procedures to put you more in control of the process. And, rely on a support network and establish open communication with your partner to create excitement and limit anxiety.

Method 1
Communicating Openly and Honestly

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    Talking with your partner. If you are completing IVF with a partner, it is important to maintain the solid foundation of your relationship. Take into account their opinions on everything from the doctor to the number of eggs to be transplanted. Talk, but also listen actively. Ask questions and challenge opinions that you disagree with (in a supportive way).
    • Maintaining open communication will be especially helpful if, or when, you must make difficult decisions, such as choosing the option of egg reduction. Ask you partner, “How do you feel about egg reduction at this moment? How will you feel about it 5 years from now, or 10 years?”
    • Ask for your partner’s thoughts AND feelings. You might say, “What does your heart tell you? What does your head tell you?” And, then answer the same questions for them.
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    Set limits. Spend a maximum of 20 minutes each day discussing IVF with your partner. Anything else that needs to be said can wait until tomorrow. Don’t let IVF take over every aspect of your life.[2] Before you even start the process, decide when you will need to end it, if not successful. Knowing that the process will have an end point will allow you to give it your all right now.
    • It is important to emphasize the positive. As part of your 20 minutes, state at least one of your hopes for the future. For example, “I hope we get to buy little baby booties.”
    • Ask you partner, “How many traditional IVF cycles should we undergo?” or “How many months do you think we can handle this emotionally?”[3]
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    Use humor. While sitting in the waiting room, tell a silly joke or chuckle about something goofy that your partner did in the past. After a round of appointments, go see a comic live to celebrate. Laughter reduces pain awareness and enhances quality of life.[4]
    • See if you can find something funny about the process. For example, the time requirements of IVF injections may result in you getting one in an odd location, such as an elevator. Say, “Well that was a memorable elevator ride!”[5]
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    Be honest about money. Sit down with your partner and create a clear budget showing money coming in and going out, prior to the IVF process. Then, see what monies you can realistically allocate. Investigate what, if any, treatments your insurance will cover.
    • Cutting down on expenses, taking on additional employment, or even liquidating investments are some revenue-generating options.
    • A single IVF treatment can cost between $12,000 to $17,000. Keep in mind that many people require multiple cycles to be successful.[6]
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    Talking with your doctor. Frequent, face-to-face interactions with your doctor are important. Before you even arrive, write down a list of your most critical questions and concerns. Prioritize the questions and make it your goal to get five of the most important ones answered. If you feel unsatisfied at the end of the current appointment, make another one just for discussion.
    • Keep your queries specific and direct. Instead of asking, “What should I do after implantation?,” you might say, “Should I rest after implantation and, if so, for how long?”
    • Don’t be afraid to reach out to your doctor via email or the phone. If you did not get your questions answered in person, type them up and send them, flagging the email as “Important.”
    • Patients are only usually able to speak for 12 seconds before being interrupted by their physician. So, be assertive and re-direct the conversation back to you by stating, “Can we pause for a moment and address the questions that I prepared?”[7]
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    Lean on family and friends. Give you friends and family a good idea as to your appointment schedule and request volunteers to accompany you. Even if they stay in the waiting room, you will want support for many of your meetings with doctors, ultrasound technicians, etc.
    • If you are expecting a phone call with news about the results of your implantation, for example, ask a close friend to spend that day with you (if your partner is not available). You will want someone there to celebrate with!
    • Getting assistance from people close to you also gives you an opportunity to educate them about the process of IVF. You might say, “Would you like to come speak to the doctor with me?” This will also decrease the likelihood of them saying hurtful things out of ignorance.[8]

Method 2
Taking Care of Yourself

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    Recognize emotional challenges. IVF taxes both your mind and body, often creating a peak of negative emotions. Counter this by keeping your life as simple as possible. Do not add the stress of a new job, for example. Recognize that you may experience medical, but also emotional, setbacks.
    • Take a small journal with you into appointments and make notes about any actions that make you feel anxiety. Do you feel especially tense sitting in waiting rooms? Do you hate talking with doctors? Do you fear needles or other procedures?[9]
    • If waiting rooms are a problem for you, plan to arrive at the very last minute and communicate this plan to the front desk staff. You could say, “I get really anxious sitting in this room, do you mind if I do all of the paperwork via email beforehand?” In the future ask for morning appointments when the wait is typically shorter.
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    Explore coping mechanisms. When a mind is stressed, it may signal the body that it is not the right time to conceive. High stress can cause up to a 29% reduction in fertility, thus negatively effecting the odds of a successful IVF cycle.[10] So, it is important to keep a calm mind throughout much of the process.
    • Listen to relaxation tapes on the way to appointments. Take deep, soothing breaths. Consider joining a meditation or tai chi group.
    • It is commonly stated that the most stressful time is the two weeks or so waiting for the results of implantation. You may feel the emotions of anger, hatred, disgust, and sadness. Schedule ‘calming’ appointments for this time period, such as yoga, massages, manicures, and even acupuncture.[11]
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    Practice positive visualization. Create a mental image of what you want to achieve. In this case, visualize a pregnant you. Then, picture a successful delivery. And, finally, craft an image of the moment when you get to hold your baby. Repeat this series of images whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
    • In many cases, positive mental imaging is as effective as physical training and preparation. Imagining good things acts like training for your mind, preparing it for a positive future.[12]
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    Talk with a counselor. Meet with a counselor solo or with your partner or another support person. Schedule regular appointments to talk about your feelings as they relate to your experience with IVF. Counseling provides a safe space for you to release all of your pent emotions, the good and the bad. [13]
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    Eat well and exercise. Eat at least three healthy meals each day. Bring filling snacks with you, such as nuts, if an appointment coincides with lunch. Carry a refillable water bottle with you. And, exercise at least three times a week. Exercise reduces stress levels and makes you feel happier.
    • If you are a smoker, try your best to quit. Smoking can lower IVF success rates by as much as 50 percent.[14]
    • A diet low in red meat and high in fruit and grains has a positive effect on male sperm count and increases the likelihood of successful IVF.[15]

Method 3
Gathering Information

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    Choose the right program. There are many Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) options out there. Ask your primary care physician for a recommendation. Look at online forums for suggestions. Visit the clinic and interview the staff about credibility, cost, and program details.[16]
    • Any program should be able to provide board certification information and statistics regarding patient success levels, upon request. Ask your potential doctor, “What do you consider your greatest fertility success story and why?”
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    Research the IVF process. A single IVF cycle contains many steps from stimulating egg production to learning the final results of implantation. Read any material provided by the clinic and attend educational IVF classes if they are offered. Write down any questions that you have and don’t be afraid to ask them!
    • For example, some clinics will allow you to meet with the embryologist and track the progress of your individual embryo. But, you may not realize this is an option if you don’t ask.
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    Make plans. Put your knowledge to work by drafting a list of possible scenarios and your planned response to them. If, for example, you have a poor response to the ovulation medication-what will be your next step? Will you consider an alternative medication? Planning provides a positive outlet for your energy while giving you back some of the control.[17]
    • When planning for different outcomes, it may be a good idea to discuss your options with a fertility support group, either online or in person. They will have been through many of the same experiences and can provide you with fresh options.
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    Explore alternatives. IVF is not the only way to create a family. Research options outside of fertility treatments, such as adoption, child-free living, or continuing to push for natural conception. Knowing the different possibilities will help you to keep looking forward.[18]


  • Your body will face a wide variety of new challenges during IVF, including bruising from injections, etc. Remember to be proud of what your body is capable of and give yourself plenty of time to rest as well.[19]


  • IVF is very taxing emotionally. If you feel ‘obsessed’ with fertility or if you begin to show signs of depression, including a loss of sexual interest, you may want to consider speaking with a medical professional.

Article Info

Categories: Reproductive Health