All the questions you want answered about IVF from a mum whos gone through it

I think people assume with four children that they all came easily when I wanted them.  

That is not the case, and we had three rounds of fertility treatment; (ICSI twice and then Frozen Embryo Transfer) to have our beautiful daughter Belle.

When I was going through treatment, I found there was information everywhere – but no-one really answered the questions I wanted to ask.

So here goes… these were my burning questions with answers and if you have any others, please do comment below and I will do my best.

1.  The injections really do not hurt. Just remind yourself each time what you are doing and why (I used to say in my head “For a baby”) and you will barely flinch – I promise.

2. Side effects include: Nightmares (weird, I know, but I used wake up most mornings insisting we fitted another lock on the front door/ checked the smoke alarms, check all torch batteries etc, etc!) mood swings (I was a bit of a monster to my poor hubby!) and hot flushes (very bizarre and I am so not looking forward to the menopause!)

3. Cost – a fortune, there is no getting away from it.  But it is worth every penny.  Check for funding with your Primary Care Trust before you do anything else as they may have strict rules which can forfeit funding you may be entitled to if you break them – even if you don’t realise you have.  

4. Cycle length – Most cycles (please note that this is not the case in all women) involve approximately five weeks of drugs before egg collection, and then embryo transfer follows that with a two week wait until you can check to see if you have that precious BFP (Big Fat Positive pregnancy test) after transfer. 

It is a long path for each cycle.There is no getting around this so just accept it and try and be patient. I found it helped to view each stage as a hurdle I had jumped – closer and closer to the finish line.

5. If you have a choice – choose your clinic very carefully.  Check their success rates, but also dig a bit beeper as the success rates are only part the story.  Be sure to check on forums to see what people are really saying about them. 

Most clinics have an open evening but they are only going to tell you the good bits. You are trusting them with your future family (and often, your savings which may also limit the number of cycles you can afford if it doesn't work first time around (and often, it doesn't) So research, research, research.

6. Think carefully about who you share the fact that you are having treatment with. It may seem lovely to have lots of support from all sorts of people, but remember that they will all know at what stage you are at. You wouldn’t normally tell people you were pregnant as early as four weeks (which will be how pregnant you are after a positive test – bizarrely enough!) so do you want these people to know just because you are having fertility treatment? 

The support is great, but just be sure it is from the right people and carefully communicate what you want from them. If you don’t want them to ask every day ‘how things are…’ ask them not to.  They will understand.

7.  It often doesn't work first cycle. It didn't for us and I found it hard to accept why not given that our little embryo was safe and sound in my womb where it just needed to grow.  It's so hard to jump each hurdle and then not get that BFP.  Be kind to yourself and when you are ready, pick yourself up and try again. 

8. It’s tough. It’s okay to think it sucks, that the world’s not fair and why me. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, but equally the most rewarding.

Sally Hall is mum to four delicious little people, a wife, businesswoman and author. Her debut children's book is Down in the Den.

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