July 20, 2023

Your Ultimate Guide to IVF Prep


Your Ultimate Guide to IVF Prep

Are you considering starting an IVF process? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve gone through 4 IVF cycles and can tell you that in the beginning I was terrified to begin. The needles freaked me out and I was simply, scared. I wish I had someone to talk to, so if you feel all THE THINGS, you’re in the right spot. I hope that you can find some peace and understanding after reading this post.

Preparing for IVF can be an intimidating and overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. In this ultimate guide to IVF Prep, I’ll cover everything you need to know from start to finish of your IVF journey. We’ll discuss what to expect during the IVF process, the different phases of IVF Prep, and some tips to help make the experience more manageable. Let’s get started!

So, what is IVF?

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment that involves combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. It’s typically used for couples who struggle to conceive naturally. There are two types of IVF: traditional IVF and mini IVF or “gentle IVF”. Traditional IVF involves using high doses of hormones to stimulate egg production. Mini IVF, on the other hand, uses lower doses of hormones to achieve the same outcome. Both types involve monitoring the woman’s ovulation cycle, retrieving mature eggs, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and transferring the resulting embryos to the woman’s uterus.

Taking the right supplements

I’m all about taking vitamins on the daily to help my eggies grow healthy and fertility supplements can play a crucial role in preparing your body for IVF treatment. While it’s always important to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements, there are a few that are known to support egg quality and overall fertility. These include Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants like Vitamin C and E. These supplements can help optimize egg health, increase ovarian response, and improve embryo quality. If you’re interested in purchasing these supplements, click the links below to find the ones I personally recommend and trust.

Vitamins I am taking during my IVF and Fertility Journey

Preparing Your Mind & Body for IVF

Preparing for IVF is not just about taking supplements or following a diet plan. Your mind and body play a significant role in this journey. IVF can be emotionally and physically draining, so it’s crucial to take care of yourself throughout the process.

It’s normal to experience feelings of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty during this time. Make sure to speak to your partner, friends, family, or a therapist who can provide emotional support. Try to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine, such as prayer, meditation, yoga, or walks in nature.

Taking care of your physical health is equally important. Ensure you’re getting enough rest, light exercise regularly, and eating a healthy and balanced diet. Talk to your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions that may impact the IVF process. It’s essential to take any medication prescribed and follow the doctor’s instructions to a tee.

Remember that IVF is a personal journey, and everyone experiences it differently. It’s okay to have moments of doubt or anxiety, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions, and take breaks when necessary.

In the end, what matters is that you’re doing the best you can for yourself and your future family. You’re braver than you think, and I always used to tell myself “It’s basically one month, one cycle of this, it won’t kill me, I can DO THIS”.

Egg Retrieval

What Kind of Food to Eat

My sweet friend and fertility expert Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a reproductive endocrinologist, recommends a Mediterranean-style diet. Its plant-based, colorful foundation should provide the positive nutrition your body needs. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains are packed full of beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta carotene, and lutein. Eating more of these healthy foods shouldn’t hurt in the effort. Take a look at the below as a reminder to get you started on the right foot!

  • Avoid trans fats
  • Use more unsaturated vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Eat more plant-based protein, like beans and nuts, and less animal protein
  • Choose whole grains and high-fiber foods when possible
  • Consume milk fat every day
  • Take a prenatal multivitamin
  • Get plenty of iron from fruits, vegetables, beans, and supplements, but less from red meat.
  • Be mindful of what you drink. Drink water most of the time
  • Aim for a healthy weight
  • Start a daily exercise plan
Side Effects From IVF

Let’s Talk Medications & Monitoring Appointments

So, you received all of your meds, doesn’t your home feel like a mad scientists lab?! Yeah, it did for me. I remember the first time I received all of our injections and medication, I felt dizzy “I’m not a nurse, how can I remember how to do all of THIS”. BREATH. I promise you, you’re going to get it and understand how to do it. What is awesome, is a thing called YouTube! I watched so many tutorial videos on youtube and felt confident that I was mixing and injecting correctly. You can also reach out to your nurse and ask any questions, no questions is a dumb one, they’re there to help so don’t be afraid to contact them!

Before injecting, I used an ice-pack for about 10-12 seconds on my skin to ease the pinch or sting from the meds. It definitely helped! Most didn’t bother me too much but if I had to choose the one that “stung” the most after was Menopur. It doesn’t last but a mere seconds, but after that one I always gave myself a treat after, because YOU deserve it! I always started in my lower stomach and rotated each side, so I would have more spots as we went. Don’t be startled if some injections go in hard or smoother it all depends with your skin. We would have easy ones and then ones that would bruise up after because we may had hit a small nerve, that’s NORMAL, it will not effect your injection going into your body. My husband gave me all my shots, because I COULD NOT do it.


Hormone Stimulation

Before the egg retrieval process, you’ll likely undergo hormone stimulation with fertility injections such as menopur, gonal-f, or clomid. These drugs help to stimulate the production of multiple follicles and eggs.

However, they can come with side effects, such as headaches, bloating, and mood swings. Don’t be alarmed with yourself. Honestly Clomid made me CRAY CRAY but God Bless my husband, he was patient with me. LOL.

It’s important to remember that every woman’s experience with IVF medication is unique. Some women may have minimal side effects, while others may experience more intense symptoms. Be sure to discuss any side effects you experience with your doctor so they can help you manage them.

Overall, the hormone stimulation process can be challenging, but it’s an essential part of the IVF process. Just remember to be patient with yourself and your body during this time, and reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions.


The Egg Retrieval Process

It’s time to collect!
On the day of the egg retrieval, you will be brought into a comfortable and sterile procedure room. You will be given anesthesia to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The doctor will then use ultrasound guidance to insert a thin needle through the vaginal wall and into the ovaries to retrieve the eggs. This procedure typically takes about 20-30 minutes. You will be under, so take a nice little nap…it’s so fast!

Following the egg retrieval, you may experience some cramping or discomfort, but this should subside within a few days. It is important to rest and take it easy after the procedure to allow your body to recover. I just laid in bed for the rest of the day, ate something yummy and watched movies. Pamper yourself, this isn’t a day to do anything crazy. RELAX.

After the retrieval, the eggs will be carefully examined in the laboratory, and the most viable ones will be selected for fertilization. This is typically done through a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into each mature egg.

The egg retrieval process can be both physically and emotionally demanding, but it is an essential step towards achieving your dream of starting or growing your family. Remember to lean on your support system and take care of yourself during this time.


Waiting for Results and Coping with Emotional Stress

After the egg retrieval process, the waiting game begins. This can be an incredibly stressful and anxiety-inducing time for couples undergoing IVF. The anticipation and uncertainty can take a toll on your emotional well-being. Here are some coping tips to help you navigate this challenging period:

  1. Find support: Lean on your partner, family, or close friends for emotional support. Having someone to talk to and share your feelings with can make a world of difference.
  2. Stay busy: Distract yourself by engaging in activities that bring you joy. Take up a new hobby, indulge in self-care, or immerse yourself in a good book or TV show.
  3. Practice self-care: Take care of your mental and physical well-being by prioritizing self-care. Engage in activities that help you relax, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. PRAY! Talk with Jesus.
  4. Focus on the present moment: Instead of obsessing over the outcome, try to focus on the present moment. Engage in mindfulness techniques to ground yourself and alleviate anxiety.
  5. Seek professional help: If the stress becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of a therapist or counselor who specializes in infertility. They can provide you with valuable tools and coping strategies.
    Remember, the waiting period is temporary, and stressing about the results won’t change them. Take one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and trust in the process.

Let’s Make This As Comfy As Possible

It’s crucial to make this time as comfortable as possible. To do this, it’s helpful to consider a few key things:

  1. Comfortable Clothing: It is essential to feel comfortable in what you are wearing, especially during the procedures. Consider loose, breathable clothes that don’t constrict your stomach or pelvic area. I lived in gym clothes for the entire process.
  2. Reading Material: It is also essential to keep yourself busy and distracted. Consider some light reading material that will take your mind off the process. This book IS AMAZING
  3. Hot Packs: Hot packs can help relieve pain and discomfort, especially after egg retrieval. A warm blanket or hot water bottle can also help provide some comfort during this challenging time.
  4. Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help calm your nerves and make you more comfortable during the process.


A Personal Note

I know how stressful this is for you. I know the unknowns are giving you anxiety. I’ve been where you are, and I know exactly how you feel. You’re a fighter, you’re braver than you think.

If you’re wondering what I’ve done up to this point or what we have gone thru with our fertility journey:

  • I started my fertility journey after an ER trip to the hospital because of a cyst rupture I never knew I even had!
  • I’ve had laparoscopy surgery for my stage 3 endometriosis ( that I learned I had at 32 )
  • 4 Failed IUI’s
  • 4 Failed IVF Cycles, that only produced/retrieved max 3 eggs, any blastocysts I had were always “abnormal” after PGT testing.
  • ZERO transfers
  • 1 Natural Pregnancy that ended in Miscarriage at 8 weeks.
  • Did 1 round of PRP Ovarian Rejuvenation with Dr. Merhi in New York City.
  • I have low ovarian reserve, with AMH that fluctuates but is usually around 0.02 – 0.118
  • I’m in my late 30’s
  • I’m NOT giving up, no matter the numbers, test results, etc.

It’s a hard journey but Hopeful

Florida travel for couples

Finding joy thru infertility, can be the hardest thing. One day you’re just ok, the next day you’re crying your eyes out with the thought of “will this EVER happen for us”?! Are we kidding ourselves?!

It’s a roller-coaster that you can’t seem to get off.

I’m not going to lie, trying to conceive for 5 years our entire marriage has been one of the hardest things to go thru other than becoming a young widow when I was 25, which introduced me to grief at its maximum.

My coping mechanism? Well, my faith. I constantly have to remind myself that no matter what my earthly desires are, I know that God has the best plan for Lucas and I when it comes to having a child. I know that I can’t see everything in the future, I know that because I am a child of God, as my father, and we as his children, will take care of us and give us what our hearts desire and can handle. ( even if it seems like we don’t understand why everyone else seems to receive it )

Does this mean you should give up for your desire to have your own child? Absolutely not. It just means that we shouldn’t live in despair but in hope. Even if you have bad days, you’re going to get back up and live thru the baby announcements, baby showers, triggers, conversations, loss & failed treatments.

Sister, you’re so special, I know your tired, I know your heart hurts. Mine does too. Pray for peace in the wait, to calm your mind, for the Holy Spirit to guide you and all the beautiful support to surround yourself with.

If you’re alone in your journey, consider me your first friend holding your hand. Follow me at @andimans for more updates on my own fertility journey and tips. Check out my Fertility category on my blog for even more resources. DM me and let’s chat! I’m an open book! Sending a big hug to you.

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