10 questions to consider before starting IVF

At Ovally, we talk to a lot of women and couples who underwent IVF before coming to us and didn’t have an entirely positive experience. In many cases, they didn’t have enough time with their doctors to comfortably make critical decisions, or had decisions made for them without knowing that they had a choice. Given the complexity of IVF, it’s very hard to know as first-time patients what questions to ask. As part of our IVF series, we’ve put together 10 questions to consider and discuss with your doctor as early as possible in the process:

1. Does it make sense to try IVF right away, or could intrauterine insemination and medication that supports ovulation medication be a first step? There’s a significant difference in success rates between the two treatments, but also in costs.

2. What are the clinic’s IVF outcomes for your age group?

3. Based on your pre-treatment tests, what’s the likelihood that you’ll need more than one cycle to retrieve enough eggs to have at least one embryo to transfer?

4. Will your eggs be fertilized using conventional in-vitro fertilization, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)? The male partner’s fertility plays an important role in whether not ICSI makes sense, and ICSI is not without risks.

5. How long will your embryos develop in the lab? For 3, 5, or 6 days?

6. Will you do a “fresh” or “frozen” transfer? A fresh transfer means that an embryo will be transferred to your uterus after it’s completed its development in the lab. For a frozen transfer, your embryos are frozen for a period of time before being transferred.

7. How many embryos will be transferred? More embryos can increase the chance of pregnancy, but multiple pregnancies also carry significant health risks for both baby and mother.

8. Will you take hormones prior to your embryo transfer (i.e., will it be a medicated or unmedicated transfer)?

9. Does it make sense to do genetic screening (e.g., pre-implantation genetic screening, or PGS, for chromosomal abnormalities or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, for major heritable diseases)?

10. If you are offered add-on treatments, what is the evidence for their effectiveness? We discussed popular add-on treatments in this previous post.

If some of these questions don’t make complete sense yet, don’t worry. We’re going to dive deeper into each one of them in upcoming posts, so you have a better sense of the existing scientific evidence. Also, if there are any other important questions you’d add, let us know!

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