Suffering information overload

The sheer volume of information that you have to take in before you undergo IVF treatment is huge. Naturally, you may worry about not remembering it all or getting something wrong. Make sure that you and your partner attend as many of the appointments as possible during your treatment, because between the two of you, you'll retain more information than either of you would on your own! And you can be sure that all the important stuff you need to know is included in the written information that the nurse gives you to take home, so, if in doubt, refer to your paperwork.

Producing Mature Eggs with Fertility Drugs

Historically, IVF treatment used a woman's one and only egg that normally develops during the monthly menstrual cycle. The chances of getting this egg before ovulation and of fertilisation occurring normally were very slim, which is why the chance of pregnancy was very low. These days, the clinic uses fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs as well as other drugs to stop the eggs from ovulating, which increases the chance of at least one of your eggs developing into an embryo that has all it takes to grow into a healthy baby.

Women's responses to fertility drugs vary: Some women produce a lot of eggs while others produce only a few. Your age and genetic factors influence the number of eggs that you can expect, but your doctor can't possibly predict in advance the number of eggs that will be collected. However, your doctor can estimate your ovarian reserve before starting stimulation by measuring your levels of follicle-stimulating hormone ( FSH ) and anti-mullerian hormone (AMH ) and examining your ovaries with ultrasound. The ovarian reserve gives your doctor some idea of what to expect and can help determine the most suitable dose of fertility drugs to use.

But even when your doctor carefully considers your individual circumstances to determine your dose of fertility drugs, ovarian stimulation doesn't always go to plan and you sometimes end up with too few or too many eggs.

I discuss the drugs used in IVF in more detail in Chapter 6.

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