2013-05-01

I’m all about evaluation, and I thought it might be interesting to generate some stats and reflections on my first IVF cycle.

(By the way, I’m still taking these money draining daily kick in the teeth folic acid tablets…)

General stats

Number of days from first trying to conceive to pregnancy test: 1,302
Number of days properly trying to conceive (tracking the ‘right’ days) to pregnancy test: 913
Number of days on IVF waiting list to pregnancy test: 359

Stats for the first IVF cycle

Number of days from first appointment of cycle to pregnancy test: 64
Number of days from starting drugs to pregnancy test: 43

Number of different types of drugs administered by self: 5
Number of days taking a drug by injection to bring on rapid menopause (Suprecur): 26
Number of days taking a drug by injection to overstimulate my ovaries (Gonal F): 11
Number of days self administering two injections per day: 11
Number of days taking a drug by injection to stimulate ovulation (Ovitrelle): 1
Number of days taking a drug to increase progesterone (Crinone / Cyclogest): 13
Total number of times injected by self: 38

Number of appointments at IVF clinic: 8
Approximate number of hours spent at IVF clinic: 9.25
Approximate number of hours spent traveling to and from IVF clinic: 16
Number of appointments before 9.30am: 5
Number of appointments during working day: 3 (Two half hour appointments, plus a day surgery)
Number of days of notice given for appointments during working day: 1/2/2
Number of unavoidable days off work: 1

Number of times blood taken: 4
Number of internal scans: 5

Number of eggs collected: 13
Number of eggs fertilised: 10
Number of blastocysts frozen: 7
Number of blastocysts transferred: 1

Number of days between egg retrieval and pregnancy test: 14
Number of days between embryo transfer and pregnancy test: 9

Pain and inconvenience of drugs and procedures

Folic acid:

  • Reason to take: Advisable pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy for the development of a healthy foetus
  • Method: Tablet
  • Side effects: None
  • Comparable pain: Like taking vitamin tablets
  • Inconvenience: Have to remember to take daily.

Suprecur:

  • Reason to take: Rapid menopause
  • Method: Self administered injection
  • Side effects: Physical tiredness, itching at injection site, bruising at injection site, reduced libido
  • Comparable pain: Surprisingly minimal pain, did not feel it nine out of ten times. When I did feel it, it was a sharp hot brief pain like plucking an eyebrow hair.
  • Inconvenience: Have to remember to take daily, have to inject self, many component parts to use and store.

Gonal F:

  • Reason to take: Overstimulate ovaries
  • Method: Self administered injection
  • Side effects: Physical tiredness
  • Comparable pain: As Suprecur
  • Inconvenience: Have to remember to take daily, have to inject self.

Ovitrelle:

  • Reason to take: Stimulate ovulation
  • Method: Self administered injection
  • Side effects: None
  • Comparable pain: As Suprecur, but as it had to be stored in the fridge could feel the coldness of the drug spreading once injected.
  • Inconvenience: Have to store in the fridge, have to take at a specific time at night, have to inject self.

Crinone

  • Reason to take: Progesterone, to make the womb hospitable
  • Method: Vaginal gel
  • Side effects: Extreme physical tiredness, sore breasts, sore ‘down there’
  • Comparable pain: Like inserting a tampon, side effects like getting over the flu and at the same time having thrush
  • Inconvenience: Have to remember to take daily, has to be taken vaginally.

Cyclogest:

  • Reason to take: Progesterone, to make the womb hospitable
  • Method: Vaginal or anal pessary
  • Side effects: Physical tiredness
  • Comparable pain: Like inserting a tampon
  • Inconvenience: Have to remember to take twice daily, has to be taken vaginally or anally, coating melts and drips out.

Internal scan:

  • Comparable pain: Smear test
  • Comparable inconvenience: Smear test

Dummy embryo transfer:

  • Comparable pain: Smear test
  • Comparable inconvenience: Smear test

Egg retrieval:

  • Comparable pain: Putting cannula in like a needle in the hand. Delivering sedative like receiving a general anaesthetic but more of a subtle feeling. Do not remember the procedure due to sedative. Waking up from procedure was like sleepiness which you are not in control of so keep drifting in and out. Pain that afternoon was none. Pain that evening and following day was stiffness and bruising like you might have a few days after a fall but solved by painkillers.
  • Comparable inconvenience: Minor day surgery / a day off work sick not spent at home.

Embryo transfer:

  • Comparable pain: A bit like a smear test but slightly more uncomfortable as they use no lube and you have a full bladder
  • Comparable inconvenience: Like if your smear test went on for 15 minutes.

IVF overall:

  • Comparable pain: Only minimally more than a normal randomly selected month
  • Comparable inconvenience: Applying for a senior job outside your current company – you talk about it with your partner and decide whether you are committed to going for it, you put a lot of time and emotional energy into applying and preparing, you fill in many many forms, and you go to several appointments during the working day which you lie about and pretend were appointments for something else. It all drags on for weeks and weeks. During this time you hope and hope that you’ll succeed and you imagine how your life might change if you do. Waiting to hear makes you anxious and taking the actual phone call is agony. If you don’t succeed you are quite seriously disappointed, and feel bad that the life changing things won’t happen, then you tell yourself it wasn’t your turn this time and steel yourself for trying again at a later date.
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