In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an intricate sequence of procedures used to aid in the conception of a child when a couple is experiencing infertility, illness or genetic concerns.
In very generic terms, during IVF, mature eggs are harvested from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg (embryo) is implanted in the uterus. There will likely be more than one embryo placed at a time. IVF can involve the use of your own fertilized eggs, or those of an anonymous donor. A gestational carrier or surrogate mother might also be an option.
You can find information about the risks, preparation, what to expect, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization, embryo transfer and results here.
We recently interviewed a gentleman who became a dad through IVF and shared his recollections near his son’s eighteenth birthday. In speaking with a father who recently went through the IVF process with his wife, we asked a series of questions to get his perspective on the experience.
What made you choose In vitro fertilization (IVF)? Did you research other options?
Our ages were a factor. We had experienced two miscarriages. IVF just felt right and we wanted a child who was biologically ours.
Did this require testing or special medications?
Yes, blood samples, sperm count, estrogen levels and testosterone levels were needed. I was not required to take regular medications. It was recommended that I wear boxers and not sit in a hot tub for a while. These cooler conditions were optimal for a higher sperm count.
Would you recommend IVF to other couples?
Yes. Sometimes nature needs a little help. Some have questioned the ethics behind IVF, but it did not weigh heavily on my mind. I consider it a technological wonder.
How do you know your privacy was honored?
You have to release the rights to your fertilized eggs or they will be destroyed. We trusted our doctor.
Did insurance cover the cost?
Yes, insurance did cover this treatment. That was a big part of why and how we decided to try IVF. If insurance did not cover it, the option probably would not have been available for us. Having insurance cover the costs helped us cross the threshold and we knew we could move forward with this opportunity.
What was the toughest part of the process?
There was a length of time during implantation that was uncomfortable for my wife. It required extensive exertion and the timing had to be “just right”. I tried to be as supportive as possible during this process. The entire process is mentally arduous. You are on a roller coaster of emotions. It was not easy waiting for the results of our pregnancy tests. We wanted to reach out when the doctor’s office hadn’t called the minute they said they would. It was emotional every time. Finally, on our third try, we got a positive pregnancy test. We shed heartfelt tears of joy that day.
How do you feel your view as the father was different than that of your partner?
We both had the same points of view with this experience. My main goal was to be present for her emotionally and physically. I wanted her to know she could lean on me. I think she was pleased with my willingness and knowing she was not “in it alone”. I think she was tough as nails with all the power it took to complete this journey.
I had a more methodical perspective. I enjoyed the science of it. We had to be aware of position, timing, and temperature when it was time to harvest the eggs. Later, I had to track her hormone shots. We divided the injection site in fourths and I needed to remember where and when the next dose would take place. It made me feel that I was an important part of the process.
What emotional support was provided for you?
We actually did not tell very many people. We were worried about “what if it didn’t work”. We didn’t want to face all the questions, even if they were well meant. It would have been too hard. When our first session of IVF did not take, we relied on the few family and friends who knew, as well as one other. The doctor’s office was always full of welcome smiles. That made it easier to go back.
How can medical professionals be more supportive during IVF?
I felt very supported. Thinking back, I would not have minded an organized men’s group. I didn’t actually tell anyone in my family or circle of friends but may have been more open if I knew of others who were going through the same process.
Would you consider IVF a bonding experience for your family?
Yes, but I think that was because my wife made it that way. It was “just us”. We relied on each other. I was strangely calm several days before delivery. When the time came and I first held my son in my arms, with emotions nearly impossible to describe, I whispered, “We’ve been waiting for you little guy.”
Your doctor can help you understand how IVF works, the potential risks and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you. You may want to start with a physical from your primary care provider or have an OB/GYN consultation. This summer, Lovelace Women’s Hospital will be hosting educational seminars on infertility. Be sure to check our Facebook for details about the events.