Everyday, we receive many emails from readers who are struggling to conceive and are thinking about having fertility treatment. The IVF process can be quite overwhelming to get your head around, so we turned to fertility specialist Dr. Herrera, from IVF Spain to answer the 10 most frequently asked questions about IVF, to hopefully offer you some clarity.
How long does a round of IVF take? (From the moment you have your initial tests, to the moment you take a pregnancy test?)
After an initial appointment and having completed the required tests (viral screening tests, hormone levels, pre-surgery tests), a fertility specialist would then plan the next course of action and design the treatment plan. Typically an IVF stimulation would take between 12-15 days. Following egg collection, fertilisation and embryo transfer, patients wait around 10 days (blastocyst embryo transfer) to get their pregnancy test (usually in blood). Overall, we could say an IVF treatment could take around one month. Some factors like can influence the average duration of an IVF treatment: type of medication used, number of follicles developed and of course, IVF can be adapted to patient needs and availability to travel (when treatment is performed abroad).
Are there any side effects associated with IVF?
Patients do not usually report major side effects; however this can vary and depends on each patient and their individual case and medical background. Some patients feel just normal but others can feel more sensitive or irritated. This varies based on the reaction towards hormones but overall all of them explain the treatment is bearable most of the times. Some patients experience some bloating or swelling of the abdomen. However these symptoms quickly disappear after egg collection.
How much does an IVF cycle cost? (Including medication?)
The price of an IVF cycle always depends on the different tests and procedures included. At IVF-Spain, for example, we offer different IVF treatment packages, depending on the needs of each patient. The basic cost of an IVF cycle at IVF-Spain starts from 4,800€ and it can increase depending on what tests and techniques are needed. We study carefully each case and recommend the most suitable package in order to avoid unnecessary add-ons or additional costs
What is the benefit of travelling abroad for IVF?
Not every country can offer the same range of treatments and techniques, because of the legal framework of each one. For some Patients going abroad is the only option to make their dream of parenthood come true. Sometimes travelling abroad for ivf can also help reduce the stress that a fertility treatment can produce. At home most patients would continue working and struggle when they don’t want people to know the fact there are going through ivf; going abroad can be seen as a time-off period from their daily routine.
Is the egg retrieval for IVF painful? (Do I have local or general aesthetic?)
Egg retrieval should not be painful. At IVF-Spain patients normally get a sedation (mild anesthesia), but if they wish or need it, they can also have the procedure under general aesthetic, based on each case and the medical advice.
What are chances of IVF resulting in a pregnancy on the first round?
Many factors influence the result of an IVF treatment: age, egg and sperm quality and embryo quality. Success rates are over 60% for most of the IVF cases with own eggs. Over the age of 40, PGT-A testing (formerly known as PGS) is highly recommended as the chances of getting abnormal embryos (embryos that would end up in miscarriages or implantation failure, for example) increase dramatically. Again, results vary and the use of donor eggs or donor sperm can also influence the success rate of an IVF treatment. Any underlying issues such as endometrial receptivity or blood clotting issues can also impact the results. We always recommend patients to discuss their chances with a fertility expert after a thorough diagnosis, considering their situation, not asking for general statistics.
Can I choose the sex of my baby?
Gender selection is not allowed in Spain.
Are there any life style changes I should make before I have IVF that will help enhance the chances of a pregnancy?
Before starting IVF, patients should try to reduce stress levels and have a healthy lifestyle. Anything good for them and their bodies will be also good for their fertility journey. Getting emotional support from experts (fertility coach, patient support groups, online platforms for peer support) or learning relaxation techniques as well as incorporating other form of treatments such as acupuncture could also help keep stress levels to a minimum.
When it comes up to the sperm quality, a healthy diet, no smoking of course, regular exercise and avoiding extreme temperatures can help improve the sperm mobility, which could ultimately increase the chances of successful fertilisation and embryo development and thus improving the chances of a positive treatment outcome.
Can I choose how many embryos will be implanted?
The number of embryos depends on the women’s age. At IVF-Spain we normally recommend the transfer of a single embryo, and try not to put at risk a viable pregnancy and avoid the risks associated with a twin pregnancy (high blood pressure, preeclampsia during pregnancy, premature birth, higher risk to have a c-section). It is also a matter of numbers: let’s say you have three perfectly good quality embryos, you do a double transfer but don’t get pregnant for any other issue, like a displaced implantation window for instance. You just have one embryo left instead of two to manage to get pregnant without undergoing a new treatment.
If it doesn’t work first time around, how long do I need to wait before I can start again?
In case the treatment didn’t work out, the medical team has to be informed immediately. Once the patient has informed us, the patient care assistant will give new instructions regarding the medication plan. Afterwards the Fertility Experts will come together in a medical committee to discuss what went wrong and the further steps. They will try to find a solution the same week it happens and let the patient know as soon as possible, so they can start again immediately.
Thank you so much Dr Herrera. If you have any further questions, please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, no question is a silly question!