03 July 2013

12 Tips for IVF

I made a list here of a few practical things that might be helpful for anyone going through an IVF...

(and do you like the photo?  She looks strong & brave!)

1. If at all possible, do not plan any trips, beach outings, parties, or major work projects while doing IVF.  Danny and I just laughed at ourselves as we had previously thought about going on a trip while doing all the meds. Luckily, the schedule didn't turn out that way and we were mostly home, where we needed to be. It would have been CRAZY to try and do it all from the road. [I'll spare you those details... :) ]

2. Write down your questions for the doctor.  I mean...too often it's easy to forget what you wanted to ask him/her when you're laying on an exam table with your pants down.  :)

3. Plan on gaining a little weight.  It's common. I gained a little. Not a big deal. But maybe helpful to know what to expect.

4. Find a ritual that is calming.  I wrote about my calming little ritual here. I also added in some aromatherapy which I smelled right before we'd do the shots. I think it really helped me (or reminded me) to get into a calm state. I looove this organic balm from Badger.

5. Find nicknames for the drugs.  :) Danny had a funny/cute way of saying each one of the drugs when it was time for the next dose. It made us laugh each time which helped lighten the mood.

6. Set an alarm on your phone for the meds.  There are so many times I would have forgotten the meds completely without that alarm. Though Danny always laughed at me. He said he would never forget.

7. Try to exercise, if you can.  I flat out couldn't do it on most days due to the swelling from the progesterone shots in my bum. But some days were better than others and I tried to take advantage. We did get in some wonderful walks at Prospect Park.

8. Work from home during that time, if at all possible???  I felt SO, SO lucky that I could work from home during all of this. Oh man. My heart truly goes out to any woman who is working during that time - especially if it's an intense job. There are just sooooo many doctor appointments, phonecalls, strange routines and possible body/mood changes that keeping up with a strict work schedule would make things really tricky. I know working from home is not even an option at all, for many. In those cases, I would say to save some vacation and sick days to use during that time. And maybe tell your boss that you have some medical treatments that need to be taken care of over many weeks to at least ease some of the pressure you might feel from your boss.

9. Order dinner in or make big meals to last for days.  The added time for meds & dr. appts. adds up...so the easier your life can be during that time, the better. We ate lots of delicious pho soup and other Brooklyn comfort foods from our neighborhood joints.

10. Save your rear end.  The progesterone needles themselves do not hurt (promise). But the thickness (and amount) of the medication oil itself can cause some major pain/swelling the following day. And so, per my doctor...
1.  Warm up the medication vial a little bit in a dish of lukewarm water right before the shot. This will "thin out" the oil a bit. (DO. NOT. SKIP. THIS or you'll be sorry!)
2.  After, massage the area (very vigorously!) for several minutes.
3.  Move your body to get the medication moving (do some leg lifts and leg swings. And laugh about it while possibly doing it with a bare butt  :).
4.  Apply a hot compress for 20 minutes. This step is super important!! Danny made me some hot compresses with long socks filled with rice and knotted at the top. In the first few days, I didn't have these yet and was just using a warm wash cloth. Not a good idea. That resulted in me barely being able to walk around the next day. I'm glad I figured out I needed a legit compress and needed to leave it on longer. [Note: if you have less of a cushion on your backside (yes, talking to those with bony butts), my nurse says you will likely feel more pain & have more swelling.]

11. Always use a sharp needle (the needles are often used to puncture the medication vial. But...if you use that same needle on yourself, let's just say it will be slightly more dull, so get a new needle.)

12. Decide in advance that you will assume any and all emotional or irritating moments are hormonal. I was lucky that I didn't experience any hormone changes. But I remember preparing mentally to just plow through it if it happened.

For any of you who have experienced IVF, could you add to the list?  What tips or tricks did you find helpful?  Thanks so much, everyone!



  1. Thank you! I'm starting my meds tonight, so perfect timing!

  2. I was working. Both medicated IVFs. As a lawyer at a huge international firm. It was brutal. I'll never forget the night of my first trigger shot. My whole team was at a farewell dinner for a colleague and I had to have the trigger shot at an exact time. My husband was out of the country on business (unavoidable as he wasn't the boss) and so the doctor's office stayed open an hour later for me a nurse gave me the injection. I gave all the other ones to myself, but that one was IM and....um...behind me, if you will. :D

    For tips I'd just say try to treat yourself in some special way while you do it. I was afraid when I stuck the needle in I'd instinctively pull away and mess it up, so I did it lying down. I'd watch a movie or something mindless and hold an ice pack on and just be there. I was usually to wound up to just chill out like that so that in itself was special.

  3. I work from home and felt SO lucky while going through both our IVF rounds. I seriously have a huge respect for women who go through this while working intense / non flexible jobs.

    One thing I would add (as did anonymous), treat yourself. It's ok to have that extra scoop of ice cream. Going through fertility treatments is SO hard and I just kept reminding myself to enjoy the little things.

  4. This was a really great list!! There were a few nights where my husband was out of town and couldn't give me the beloved butt shot of progesterone, so I did it myself. NOT A GOOD IDEA. It hurt so bad and I just sat on the bed and cried because of frustration and pain. I told my friend about it the next day and she was mad at me for not asking for her help. At the time I thought the idea of a friend giving me a shot in the butt was absurd, but after the fact I wouldn't have hesitated to ask for help!

    Also, plan a few low-key date nights with your husband to try to keep those few weeks of shots fun and not something to dread. We would go to dinner and a movie or something low-key. In hindsight it was a fun time!

    1. Such a good tip to ask for help. thank you.

      And I agree...some low key date nights would help make that time feel special. We did that a bit, and it was such a bonding experience to just be together, be excited together, etc.

  5. Mara, I have a somewhat related question for you. :) You mentioned you didn't have a lot of hormone changes with IVF to deal with, but I'd love to hear how you have handled that kind of thing when it does happen... Fertility drugs have made me feel like a crazy woman in the past and I always thought I would be able to handle it -- until I'm in the moment and I can't seem to keep in control of my emotions! I'd love any tips you've found to keep yourself in the right mindset even when your hormones make you feel like you're losing your mind. :)

  6. Thank you so much for this. We are starting our IVF treatments in August; I'm bookmarking this list for reference!

  7. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, thoughts and positivity!!

  8. Great list. I always had a special treat ready for myself right after the shots so that I had something to look forward to. I also always kept a pair of socks in my purse when going to the doctor's office for the frequent ultrasound monitoring--so my feet stayed toasty in those cold metal stirrups!

    1. oh man - yes on the socks! I did that once, too.

  9. Thanks Mara, I have been following your blog for a little while now all the way over in Australia. Your blog is really helpful and comforting to read as my husband and I embark on our first IVF cycle in 2 months time. Jessxx

  10. What a great list, Mara! We did IUI in December, not IVF, but two things that helped me were to make an uplifting playlist to listen to while waiting in the waiting room (our office always had some intense news story blasting) and in the stirrups instead of checking email or stressing out, and also to wear a dress or skirt when possible. I found that I felt more safe and happier when I could just remove undies and pull skirt up (and late back down) after the ultrasounds instead of having to actually get undressed. It was faster and less cold!

  11. This is a great list. We've been doing natural IVF rounds for over a year now and I'm soooo glad I don't have to inject myself in the butt. I usually put ice after massaging the injection areas. It helps the swelling. I've gained 30 pounds on the meds alone! Eating healthy & sensibly is key when doing IVF, as well as a good night sleep. Your body needs to be in prime condition ;).

  12. Totally off topic, but now I'm craving pho. Great pic. ^_^

  13. Thanks for acknowledging that IVF is indeed a process and not always an easy one. I am in my 6th IVF cycle (4th fresh cycle) right now and I have to say that the meds are making me a little crazier than normal this time! I keep having to remind myself that it's the meds every time I want to rip someone's head off (or start crying) and luckily my husband is very understanding! I don't work from home but I have a great boss who is aware of what's going on with me and totally understanding. Also, thanks for mentioning you gained a couple pounds, I knew I wasn't the only one! :)

  14. I am always so inspired by you guys, to live a happy, healthy and full life despite having unexplained female infertility. I went through a time period of a couple of years where I was bitter, dissapointed, angry and sad all the time. This has been a safe haven for me.
    A place where I started to realize that how I let this affect me was up to me! Thank you so much for you tips and for keeping us in your journey. As my attitude and life are changing, so are my blog posts about my journey. Because now I want to reach out and help other people, educate other people, and live happily despite this struggle.
    Anyways, I wanted to take a moment to share this with you- it's a Guide to Being Friends with Someone Who Can't Have Babies.
    You give out such great advice on your experiences with infertility, divorce, dating, etc. I thought this was a great tool and so many of your readers could benefit from sharing this with their friends and family. The more our loved ones understand us, the better our relationship with them will be.
    I hope you'll take the time to read and share if you enjoyed it!
    Thank you for blogging Mara & Danny,
    Laura Rahel Crosby

  15. Thanks for the tips! We're hoping to have our first IVF in January. Doing everything we can to prepare, relax, and finance the adventure!


  16. You hit the nail right on the head with these suggestions. I have been down the IVF/FET road way too many times and I wish my doctor gave me this list! Good luck!

  17. Thanks for the good post. You are right about the working at home..... I am a teacher and we did most of our cycles during the summer. The couple that we did during the school year were sooo much more stressful. But we were lucky enough that the other teachers knew what was going on and were very willing to cover classes while I had to run (30 minutes each way) to the doctor every other day!

  18. my first attempt's result was negative, et done on 23rd dec,13. doc again advised for et by frozen embryo this month, embryo was very good quality,god knows what is the fault. depressed as i'm 39+. waiting for the next attempt.

  19. I too, love your blog. I'm in my first IVF cycle and hearing about your experience and how wonderfully rational you are (and how helpful your husband has been) truly makes me feel a little more normal. I'm very positive, been giving myself the injections while my husband travels, and I just have Hope. I know it doesn't always work out, but we got to give IVF a few good tries before we move on. I commend you for your attitude after your IVF's didn't take. You are an amazing couple. I can just tell. All the best to you!

  20. Thanks for ur blog. This is simply excellent..

  21. What helped us was to try and keep some humor as we journeyed on. My mom came over one night to watch my husband give me the progesterone shot (my husband was getting ready to travel for work) and we all laughed when she noted that Brad and I both flinched as I got the shot.

    Also, I know this won't apply to everyone, but I had heparin shots twice a day for the entirety of the pregnancy and six weeks after. Icing the area BEFORE the shot helped keep the pain and bruising at bay.

    Finally, invest in some leggings/jeggings/pants in a size bigger. I was so bloated from the drugs and the amount of eggs (19 retrieved). Comfy clothes were key.

  22. Thanks so much for this info, it's really helpful. I just had a false start and am now postponing my treatment until August, so am trying to read up all I can. Loved your advice about work, I'm trying to fit it in around work so I can actually afford to do it at all!

  23. Our IVF Journey...

    A little about us, we have been married 4 years now!

    My husband and I have been trying to start a family for the past 25+ months. Never did we expect that it would take this long. In April we started seeing a fertility specialist, after lots and lots of tests even had a small surgery already.

    The doctor then told us IVF is our best option to start a family.

    We want to start our journey as soon as we can. Our insurance doesn't cover anything to do with IVF. In order to move forward they require you to have all of the money up front to cover your procedure. As we sat down with billing that day she showed us the paperwork to begin IVF. She said $10,762 was our estimated cost!

    Thank you to everyone that helps us with our IVF journey!


  24. Great Tips! I wish we would have read this before our two rounds of IVF.

    Thank you for sharing


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