The good: IVF works
Let’s start with the good. While pregnancy is never a full guarantee, IVF has a very high success rate. In fact, IVF success rates can be as high as 40% for women under 35. Women who start IVF after the age of 35 have slightly lower success rates, though IVF is still the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology.
IVF can offer hope to couples who are struggling with infertility. In the United States, up to 15% of couples are infertile. This is a huge community of people who are dealing with the same highs and lows. Additionally, there is a huge community of couples who are undergoing IVF treatment for infertility. In the most recent data, doctors performed over 165,000 IVF cycles in 2012. Of those cycles, over 61,000 produced babies.
The bad: Emotions can run high
For all the benefits, IVF can be an emotional journey. In one study, about half of women and 15% of men reported that infertility was one of the most upsetting experiences of life. The disappointment of being unable to conceive, coupled with the logistical stress and cost of infertility treatment, can cause couples to feel anxious, exhausted, and down.
Couples should keep a variety of stress reduction techniques on hand, such as meditation, deep breathing, or exercise. During IVF treatment, short-term counseling can also be a helpful tool for both couples and for each individual partner.
The ugly: Making a baby isn’t always sexy
The movies may make making a baby look romantic, but IVF generally doesn’t feel sexy. IVF treatment involves a series of fertility medication injections to help a woman’s ovaries produce more eggs. Then there is a minor procedure to retrieve eggs, followed by a waiting period where couples hope that the eggs and sperm in the lab turn into embryos. If all of these steps go smoothly, the embryos are then transferred to the uterus to hopefully embed and make a pregnancy.
Each of these steps can be complex. The amount of time spent in each step will depend on a variety of factors, such as the female partner’s age and overall health. IVF can also have some side effects such as bloating, cramping, mood swings, headaches, bruising, and breast tenderness. During IVF treatments, couples may find help in support groups where they can connect with others who are dealing with the same overwhelming feelings.
The conclusion: IVF is worth it
IVF treatment comes with many risks and side effects that couples should consider. However, thousands of babies are born every year as a result of IVF treatment. As technology continues to improve, these success rates are climbing. Couples should consult with a healthcare provider about the pros and cons of IVF and what infertility treatments are best on an individual basis.