Talking to My Doctor About a Low-dose IVF CycleAela Mass
We’re getting close to that time of the month again, which means I’ll be starting my first full round of IVF. Hopefully, the doctor will be able to quiet my overactive ovaries, and we’ll be good to go with the stimulating hormones. I’m excited and anxious — excited about the possibility of July being the month I conceive, and anxious about all the drugs and hormones I have to take.
Last month, I took Lupron for two-ish weeks before having to abandon the IVF ship (My ovaries weren’t responding to the synthetic hormone). So, we have a new plan of action for this go-round. But after being uneasy about the effects of the Lupron, a reader suggested I talk to my doctor about a “mini IVF cycle.” And that’s just what I’m going to do tomorrow at our appointment.
I had never even heard of a mini-IVF cycle, which is also called a low-dose IVF cycle. But I hadn’t heard about most of what’s involved in an IVF pregnancy before I set out on this journey. So when a Babble reader mentioned it, my ears immediately perked up. And I began looking into it.
Turns out, a low-dose IVF cycle is right up my alley. It involves taking fewer hormones, and subsequently results in my body producing fewer eggs. “But wait, don’t you want more eggs for an IVF cycle?” you ask. Normally, yes. Most women who are undergoing IVF have fertility issues of one sort or another, so more often than not, the doctors want to overstimulate their ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible with the hopes of getting “a few good ones.”
I don’t necessarily have fertility issues, though (well, unless you consider a lack of sperm a fertility issue…), so I don’t necessarily need to produce an overabundance of eggs; there’s nothing indicating that we should be concerned about the quality of my eggs to begin with — which is why I want to talk to my doctor about a low-dose IVF cycle.
I have a hesitation about taking all these drugs and hormones, which is a leading factor in wanting to inquire about a mini cycle. Don’t get me wrong: if I have to take the originally prescribed doses in order to get pregnant, you better believe I will. But because I don’t actually have an infertility issue, I may not need to. Also, I’m concerned about the number of eggs the doctor will fertilize after overproducing so many. A typical “retrieval” of eggs during an IVF cycle is anywhere for 16 to 25, according to my fertility center. Of those eggs, some will likely be “too mature” and other will likely be “too immature,” which leaves roughly around 8 to 10 “viable” eggs, as they’re called. So the doctor fertilizes those 8 to 10. And within the course of a few days, some “don’t make it” and others do.
Long story short, any given IVFer can end up with half a dozen or more fertilized eggs. What am I supposed to do with six fertilized eggs? At the most, I would have two transferred into me. Most women have the rest of them frozen for future use, but should Sara and I have a second child, either she would carry or I would carry her egg. People have suggested that I could donate the others to women unable to use their own eggs, but because we are using donated sperm from a sperm bank, I am not legally allowed to donate the eggs of mine that are fertilized with the donated sperm.
Wow. Lots going on, right?
Tomorrow, I will talk to our doctor about doing a low-dose IVF cycle so that my body isn’t (perhaps) unnecessarily injected with unnecessary hormones and drugs, and so that we don’t have an abundance of fertilized eggs — or the difficult decision of what to do with them afterward.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make A Right