Steps to start IVF:
The usual steps your doctor recommends before starting IVF are
- Try naturally for a little bit (no timing – just increase your sexual activity)
- Monitor your ovulation and time your intercourse (with at over the counter home tests)
- Increase your timing accuracy with a fertility expert and maybe some estrogen drugs.
- Usually, once you have done that for some months you will probably discuss the option of IVF. (Most US insurance requires women to complete step number 3 for at least 6 months before step number 4)
I have friends who received varied recommendations from their doctors on when to start IVF, some say 6 months, 1 year, 2 years.
A US doctor will consider your age, eagerness, and natural fertility. I personally went about 8 months. I did speak to some of my Scandinavian counterparts and doctors are more conservative with IVF recommendations (at least anecdotally) and often times say 2 years +.
That is Scandinavia, where you are encouraged to relax with Fika, Hygge, Kos, and take mental health vacations doctors are conservative because getting pregnant takes time and you should not stress…
I, however, live in the New York where everything should have been done yesterday and you are already late for tomorrow. In the city that never sleeps, you can also probably find a 24-hour fertility provider with Yelp reviews. (Just kidding, kind of)
Right after the required 6 assisted cycles for your insurance to kick in (about 8 months), I started IVF. Luckily our insurance was pretty generous. I do know people who personally cover many of these costs. If you want to know, It is about $8,000-$10,000 to cover each IVF round, including drugs and services. (I think I heard some Scandi’s take a very heavy breath). America is definitely winning at health care expenses.
Surreal IVF Moments
Apart from being expensive, IVF is a very surreal experience as a woman. There are the logistical elements. (explained here) Through the process of stimulating every reproductive hormone in your body, you start becoming disconnected with, for lack of a better word, your female intuition. Not trusting what you are physically feeling. Especially when waiting for the binary result – Am I pregnant or am I not pregnant? Will it be good or bad news?
Waiting for and getting negative results (AKA bad news) was the most difficult part of this process to date. During the IVF process, you cannot take a regular pregnancy test (because injected hormones would distort any results) so you have to wait 10 days after implantation to verify with a blood test. All the time having first-trimester pregnancy symptoms from all the injections to optimize your chances (bloated, swollen breasts, fatigue). I felt all of this for the first time in my life, so naturally, I thought I MUST be pregnant. This is how it feels and I wasn’t wrong in thinking that.
However, when the nurse called me while I was at work and empathetically said “unfortunately, the test results are negative” I broke down and cried for about 30 min. Cried for fake pregnancy feelings, cried for fatigue, cried for knowing I will need to go again, cried because it would be another 2 months, cried out of frustration, and lastly for not being able to trust my own feelings and feeling alien in my own body.
I don’t like to stay down long, so I told my very understanding male boss about these very personal results. Who in turn ordered a huge sushi lunch and made up stupid small talk to make me smile. It is moments like this where you regain faith in humanity and appreciating the feminist men. Who will never understand, but still make active attempts.