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, the ultrasound tech, or your 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.
Below are 9 crucial questions to ask your IVF doctor. I hope these help you navigate your fertility journey!
1. 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.
2. How many eggs are you hoping to retrieve?
It’s often thought “the more the better.” A greater amount of eggs increases the chances of success. And when you’re spending this much effort, emotion, and money into starting a family, it’s easy to see why many women simply move forward with a full-dose IVF cycle. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, others like myself don’t necessarily believe that I need to produce over a dozen eggs to have IVF success, so I’m interested in how many eggs my doctor thinks is a solid starting point without going overboard.
3. What are my options for unused embryos?
One of the reasons to inquire about how many eggs your doctor is hoping to retrieve is to begin to think about what you will do with the “leftovers.” Many women store the unused embryos for future children, some donate them to science or to women who cannot get pregnant with their own eggs, some have the embryos transferred into them at an “off” time in their cycle when they’re unlikely to conceive so that their body may “naturally dispose” of the embryos, and others discard them. Whatever your case may be, the decision needs to be made and it’s best to talk to your fertility center about your options.
4. Will the transfer be a frozen embryo transfer (F.E.T.) or a transfer using a non-frozen embryo?
This is another choice for women undergoing IVF. Often, a “fresh” embryo transfer is done, meaning shortly after your eggs are retrieved and fertilized, one or more is transferred into you. But some women opt for a F.E.T. Talk to your doctor about which is best for you.
5. How many embryos will be transferred into me?
The more embryos transferred in, the greater the chance of multiples, which is music to some women’s ears and nails on a chalkboard to others. It’s important to discuss this with your doctor to best meet your familial needs.
6. Will you be doing a single sperm injection or simple IVF?
Single-sperm injections are often done when male-factor infertility exists (meaning it’s the sperm’s “fault”). But it’s also done other times. Check with your doctor to see what method will be used. The alternative is simple IVF, which means that a sampling of the sperm is placed in the dish with the eggs, and “the best man wins” and fertilizes the egg.
7. Are my embryos, eggs, and donor sperm stored here or somewhere else?
Not all fertility centers have storage facilities for embryos, eggs and/or sperm, so find out if yours will be shipped elsewhere or housed there.
8. Am I able to wait a cycle after egg retrieval before moving forward with the transfer?
Some women opt to wait a month after their egg retrieval, freezing the fertilized embryo, and having the transfer done after their body has “cleansed” itself of the fertility drugs and hormones. Whether this is something you’re interested in or not is entirely up to you, but it’s good to check if it’s even an option.
9. Will it be a 3-day or 5-day transfer?
After your eggs are retrieved and fertilized and you’ve decided to do a non-F.E.T. transfer your doctor will either transfer your embryos three or five days after fertilization. Look into which option you’re more comfortable with!