Choosing to pursue IVF can leave you with many questions. One of the most common questions we hear a lot at Yinova is, “How much IVF is too much?” This is an excellent question and like so many important questions posed to medical practitioners: it depends.
We live in a time and place where Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) are abundantly available and have the alluring promise of realizing your dream of becoming a parent and bringing miracles to life. For many, it’s true– IVF and other modern fertility technologies support a healthy pregnancy and birth where other approaches may not. We are truly grateful this medicine exists and we love partnering with many of the best reproductive endocrinologists in NYC to provide unique and integrative care to our patients.
Even though IVF has been around for several decades, many are still shocked to learn that it doesn’t guarantee a baby at the end. Many clinics today recommend at least 3 cycles of IVF because less than ⅓ of IVF cycles lead to live birth in women under 35, and this often declines with age. As with most statistics, this doesn’t tell the whole story– there are so many factors that go into this, and each person has their own nuances. Here at Yinova we often see that fertility challenges can be alleviated with a series of small shifts and tweaks with Chinese medicine. However, this does highlight that undergoing IVF requires time and patience.
While IVF is safe for most people and can bring very healthy, happy, vibrant babies into the world, it is not without risks. Let’s dive into some of the considerations to help you navigate your own fertility choices.
Check In with Yourself
If you decide that IVF is the right next step for you, or you’ve already begun, it’s always worthwhile to pause and check in with yourself. How are you feeling with the various medications? Everyone’s tolerance for the side effects of these drugs is different- some of my patients feel perfectly fine while others feel absolutely miserable from the beginning. Receiving regular acupuncture treatments can alleviate many of these symptoms, but still, the toll can be tiring. Discuss how you’re feeling with your doctor regularly, and see if there are other options for you. An alternative medication or different dose might be available while still keeping your chances of success as high as possible.
It is okay to take a break and recharge. While there are many considerations around timing– age, career, partner, and life planning (to name a few!)– if you are feeling particularly worn out from the process, hit pause. Many patients of mine take a moment to reset and rest in between cycles because that is what feels best for them physically and mentally, and they have had honest, supportive conversations with their doctor about their needs and goals. It can feel empowering to remind yourself that you have choices in this process and to give yourself space to restore. Many of my patients resume IVF treatments from a stronger place this way and feel even more capable than they did before.
Build a Support Network
It is important to consider your own mental and emotional health through all of this as well. Take stock of your inner resources, and who you can ask to support you through this journey. Many patients, especially when first beginning this process, may feel quite alone and that they are the only ones they know going through this. Reaching out to those you can trust to care for your feelings is crucial in building your own support network. It may feel especially vulnerable at first to ask for extra help, and yet, you may discover just how many folks around you are struggling with the same thing- fertility challenges are more common than you might think.
At the end of the day, deciding how many cycles of IVF to pursue is largely personal and varies tremendously. There are many factors that contribute to everyone’s unique story, including all aspects of their health and safety, family dynamics, financial considerations, and other career and lifestyle goals. I want to reassure you that everyone’s situation is truly unique and this is a decision best made between you and your care providers– it can be a good idea to get a second opinion when (re)assessing your options! No one can tell you how your body feels throughout all of this– stay close to those internal whispers and honor where you are at. Your body truly knows what is best when you can take the time to listen.