What role does age play?
Age is a huge factor. People talk about age 35 as if it’s this magic number, but you really start to see a drop-off in success rates in the late 30s. The slope of the curve starts to steepen around age 37 or 38, and from that point on, every year makes a difference.
That’s why we strongly recommend that patients be proactive if they decide they might want children later in the future. We’re seeing people freeze eggs much earlier, even in their late 20s.
While these numbers may seem discouraging, pregnancy in women over 40 is possible both naturally and with fertility treatment. It is always worth seeing a fertility specialist to discuss options.
Is IVF painful?
Overall, IVF is described as uncomfortable rather than painful.
Certain aspects like the nightly injections and bloating can be bothersome. Abdominal pain and cramping post-retrieval are normal but typically short-lived. Severe pain is rare and likely would indicate some type of complication. Most patients say they are pleasantly surprised by the experience.
What are common side effects?
Bloating, fatigue, and mild cramping are common after the procedure. The IVF medications can have side effects. The most common questions we get asked are, “How am I going to feel emotionally? Will my hormones be raging?” Some patients say they feel more anxious, moody, and teary, and others say they feel great and don’t notice a difference.
What are the risks?
Though the chance of these risks is small, they include:
- Bleeding and infection from the egg retrieval
- Ovarian torsion, or twisting of the ovary
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries over-respond to the medications and become swollen
How much does IVF cost?
Depending on the location, IVF can cost between $15,000 to $30,000 per cycle.
Insurance coverage for IVF varies significantly, depending on the particulars of your plan and your location, as some states mandate coverage. Navigating the insurance landscape can be one of the most challenging parts of this process, so it’s important to understand your plan details early on.
What happens if it’s not successful?
If the embryos are good quality and it’s more of a uterus implantation issue, the embryos could be used in a surrogate, or gestational carrier. If it’s an egg quality issue, the patient could use donated eggs. For those who don’t want to consider egg donation or a gestational carrier, adoption is an option. And some couples say, “We’re going to keep trying on our own,” and we’ve seen cases where they do get pregnant.
How important is emotional support during IVF?
There are many emotional aspects of going through fertility treatment, being diagnosed with infertility, or undergoing fertility preservation. It can take a huge toll.
For many patients, this may not be what they thought they’d be doing, or it’s not their ideal scenario. It can be very stressful, and there is so much misinformation out there, which can make it more difficult. I encourage patients to connect with a psychologist, social worker, or psychiatrist if needed. Friends and support groups can also provide emotional support. Some patients may be prescribed medication to help.
The IVF process can seem very daunting, but it’s a very individualized process and there is a lot of support in place for patients.