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9 Crucial Questions to Ask Your IFV Doctor

By Aela Mass |

9 Crucial Questions to Ask Your IVF Doctor

Learning the ins and outs of IVF can often make you feel like you’re a stranger in a distant land. It can be so overwhelming at times that you find yourself simply nodding in agreement with your doctor, ultrasound tech, or nurse as if you understand anything it is they’re saying. While it’s practically second nature for the staff at your fertility center to know the many layers of these heavily involved fertility treatments – and while they are the experts – it’s good to arm yourself with knowledge so that you may make the best decisions, with your doctor, about your IVF options.

I wish I had these questions with me my first day at the fertility center, but, alas, I was an uninformed newbie. Lucky for you, though (and me too, really), I’ve quickly learned a thing or two about some very important questions that need to be asked right from the get-go.

After the jump, check out 9 Crucial Questions to Ask Your IVF Doctor. I hope these help you navigate your fertility journey!

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IVF Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Am I A Candidate for Low-Dose IVF?

Low-dose IVF cycles, or "mini IVF" as it's sometimes called, is an alternative for women who don't necessarily need – or want – the higher doses of hormones and drugs, or women who simply do not wish to produce upwards of 15+ eggs for retrieval. Not all women are candidates for this type of IVF cycle, so it's certainly worth talking to your doctor first.
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About Aela Mass

aelahmass

Aela Mass

Aela Mass is a lesbian writer and editor living the dream on Martha's Vineyard with her wife, Sara, and their dog, Darla. She miscarried her twins at 17 weeks and has undergone numerous IVF, FET, and IUI cycles. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post among other publications. For more of her work, visit her blog Two Moms Make a Right. Read bio and latest posts → Read Aela's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “9 Crucial Questions to Ask Your IFV Doctor

  1. Erin says:

    While I do like your articles in IVF, I do feel it should be pointed out that a few of the questions seem a little bit odd to me. Asking whether your cycle will be FET or fresh? Well, that is not a question for the doctor, that’s a question for you. If in fact you have frozen embryos stored. If you have frozen embryos, then it is up to you whether you use them. And it’s hard to imagine if you do have them, that you would opt go through the financial and physical stress of an entire new fresh cycle. Why have the embryos on ice in the first place then? If you’re going for your first IVF, then, um, it ain’t gonna be a FET, because you don’t have any frozen embryos from prior cycles. Unless, of course, you’re using donated embryos, and then of course it’s not a fresh cycle for you.

    Asking how many embryos will be transferred? Again, that is up to the patient, within reason. Asking for the transfer guidelines is helpful, but in the end it is up to the patient, within guidelines. If guidelines are 3 embryos for patients 35-40, the patient can still decide she only wants 2, or even 1, transferred. You can always go down. Not always up, as that is probably unsafe.

    Asking whether it will be a 3 or 5 day transfer? You won’t know that until it’s time. If on day 2 or 3, you only have 2 healthy embryos left (as was the case with me), well, it’s 3 day transfer, because why the heck wait? You already know you’ve got only 2. If you’ve got 7 fantastic looking embryos on day 3, they’ll wait for day 5, so that they can see which ones are looking the very best after a couple of extra days, in case some begin to stall. That way you know you’re giving yourself the very best chance. You can’t ask this question at the consult, or even at the beginning of the cycle. Well, you can, but there’s really no way to know at that point.

    I think “how many eggs are you hoping to retrieve” is a really good question to ask, because it shows you how aggressive the doc is, and whether that aligns with your goals too. My first IVF doc was very conservative, and I did not realize this when I went in. I got very few eggs. I got a healthy baby out of the deal, so obviously I was happy at the time. But looking back, I wish I’d have known and maybe spoken with him about stimming me more aggressively, because maybe then I’d have frozen embryos. Now that I want a chance to give my daughter a sibling, I have to go through an entire fresh IVF again, instead of a simple FET.

  2. aelahmass says:

    Thanks for reading, Erin. And congratulations on the birth of your healthy baby!

    As far as frozen v. fresh embryos, some doctors recommend using only frozen embryos, so as to allow the woman’s body time to rid itself of the IVF drugs and hormones. Waiting a cycle can allow these drugs to leave the body, which is appealing to some women.

    Additionally, it’s always good to know how many embryos your doctor recommends transferring – regardless of whether that’s the amount you decide on or not – but this question was meant more as a way to help the woman undergoing IVF maneuver through the decision process.

    Also, some centers – like mine – only do 5-day transfers (at the blastocyst stage), because there’s a higher success rate and a slightly less chance of multiple births. And because 3-day embryos are normally in the Fallopian tubes, not the uterus, with traditional conception, some doctors – like mine – believe 5 days is a more conducive time to be in the uterus.

    Questions, questions, questions! Ask away, ladies – because the answers matter :)

  3. Erin says:

    Interesting. I have never heard of such a practice (using frozen after a fresh cycle as a matter of course) among all of my friends all around the country who have done IVF, even multiple times. Still I believe that one should be up to the patient after hearing the information. Weighing the whole ridding your body of hormones thing against the fact that FETs are less successful than fresh, statistically.

    Like I said before, I agree that it is good to know your doctor’s guidelines too – I think the more information, the better. Still it I believe that one is up to you as the patient, unless you want to get all octomom about it (insane, so glad that RE was disciplined).

    I have a hard time believing your doctor would have waited til 5 days to transfer mine, lol. Mostly since I only had 2, and their chances are better in the womb than in culture media. 5 day transfers are generally more successful, so I have read, because if you are waiting 5 days, it is likely because you had several more healthy embryos than patients whose embryos didn’t look as hot and were transferred at 3 days just to give them a better fighting chance. More healthy embryos = obviously better odds. I was very lucky, I know. My miracle baby. :o ) I have also never heard of a doctor who will do nothing but 5 day transfers, wow!

    Believe it or not, I am not trying to be argumentative and contrary. I’m sure it sounds like it… but so many of the things you are saying in this article, and in your comment responding to mine, are so unlike my experiences and the experiences of all of my friends who have done IVF. I didn’t even know these practices existed as a standard. But really, I think that at bottom my point is that I think the questions we ask our RE’s should be more along the lines of “what do you think about…” or “what do you recommend when…” and still the patient decides, unless, of course, the patient is asking the doctor to do something unsafe, like transfer too many embryos, for example.

    And really, I have loved reading your articles on IVF. I like reading about others’ experiences/emotions when it comes to IVF. It is such a complicated little miracle. I’m on the cusp of a fresh cycle as I write this, doing this again after a little over 4 years, and it really is surreal. I wish you the BEST of luck.

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