What to expect from IVF? I'm scared!

I'm a 34 yr old woman who's been trying for 2 yrs. I had a miscarriage in January 2016 and haven't fallen pregnant since. After all the normal fertility tests (which were all fine) I had an HSG test 2 weeks ago that excruciatingly painful and took a week to recover which really shocked me. It also revealed only one tube working so we're now looking at having IVF as it seems to be our best option. I wondered what the IVF process is and if it's painful for the egg collection and transfer? Also do the drugs make you ill and how many scans/days off do you need? Also please can someone advise/help as right now I am really scared about being able to handle any pain but want to prepare myself so I know what I am going to be dealing with!


19 Replies

  • Hello, I'm sorry to hear about your miscarriage. IVF can be a very daunting. process so try to take it one step at a time. Thinking too far into the future just stresses you out! Physically I found the IVF process was absolutely fine. It's the emotional impact that can be difficult to cope with. And, yes, it is difficult to plan time off work as scans, Egg Collection and Embryo Transfer are all dependant on your response to the drugs!

    I took bruselin to down regualate and was booked in for a scan around 2/3 weeks later. After the scan I started the injections which help your body produce eggs. Injections are not as bad as you might think. Just a bit surreal! I had 2/3 scans during this phase to monitor how things were progressing and after the last scan I was given a date for EC. EC is ok as you are sedated during the process. You may be a bit sore afterwards. For me it was like period cramps but nothing too sore and I was back at work the following day. ET was 5 days later. This wasn't sore in the slightest. The worst part is the 2ww until you can test!

    Wishing you the best of luck with your treatment. We were very fortunate that it worked for us, so miracles do happen!

    Take care X

  • Thank you so much for your reply Hopeful1982 - I really love to hear success stories and appreciate you sharing your experience and information on it. I still have so much to learn and need to get a check of my fears with it all.

    Its good to know there are people out there who have been through the same and come out the other side, i have felt so alone with all of this as none of my friends or family have had issues getting pregnant. Ax

  • Glad to help AnnaV, it can be a very isolation journey which is why this site is so good. I also saw a counsellor while I was waiting for our IVF to start. It really helped to speak to someone who didn't judge and understood what I was going through so I would recommend that too.

    Take care X

  • Hi @hopeful1982, I just thought I'd come back to you on this old post as I'm now in the month of starting bursellin after failed IUI and months of still no luck. I have been asked if I want to have an endometrial scratch with this first round of IVF but I had only heard of this being offered on 2nd,3rd rounds etc. Apparently it helps with the implantation process but it does mean you can't try naturally in the month you start the bursellin to down regulate and that's the bit I am struggling to deal with. Part of me thinks I'll just go ahead with the first IVF without the scratch and do the scratch if I need a round 2. One step at a time! But I would like to know what you did as you were successful. How far along are you by the way? Or have you had your baby yet? Hope all is well x

  • Hello HopefulAnna, I didn't have the scratch (although have heard good things about it). We did have the embryo glue though which our clinic used as standard. I liked the idea of them glueing the embryo and in my head felt this made a difference! I just followed all the advice the clinic gave and went with their suggestions - they're the experts after all! We now have our baby and she's 6 months old.

    Best of luck. I know it's a stressful time and happy to help if you have any questions x

  • Hi AnnaV

    All experiences of IVF vary just as much as pregnancies, I guess, so it's difficult to say what you can expect. In my case the HSG test was far the worst. I was personally dreading the egg collection, but I didn't feel a thing - slept through it all and woke up without any discomfort at all. I didn't feel any bad effects with the hormones either, so maybe it was all down to luck. I haven't really had many pregnancy symptoms either although I'm 14 weeks pregnant today, but I've seen the little baby yawn away on a scan last week, so it must be for real. :-) The transfer was a little uncomfortable, partly because you need a full bladder. Once the metal thing is in you can't feel the transfer of the embryo itself, and you will be able to see it on a screen which is a really amazing moment. Wishing you all the best of success with your treatment and try not to worry too much. You will probably find that the waiting game is the most difficult part.

  • Hi WhatAwait thanks for your reply. Glad to hear that things don't get much more painful than the HSG. That really caught me by surprise as it was pretty intense period pain then a sudden excruciating burst of pain which was about 100 x worse. I then cramped badly for an hour after and felt very bloated and uncomfortable for a week. What was frustrating is they could only see one tube and not the other or my womb She reassured me my womb would be there due to me getting pregnant in the first place but for some reason it didn't show on the images and I would therefore have to wait for the follow up 2 weeks later, when a radiographer will have reviewed rings properly and written a detailed report. The appointment is due on Wednesday 29th June so not long to wait but I have to say I am fearful of what the results will be and when/if we can start treatment or if I will have to have more investigations. I sometimes feel my body is failing me and have to work hard to be positive. Thanks for your post about the treatment though, that does make me feel better and less scared xx Can I ask, did you have blockages that lead you to IVF or did you just decide it was time? Also did you go through the NHS ? So amazing to hear you are pregnant - I love success stories as this really gives me something to cling on to. Thanks so much for your support. Anna x

  • Thanks for your reply.

    I actually think that my situation is a lot like yours. Well, I didn't have a miscarriage as such, but 1 1/2 year ago I was late and did test a weak positive, so it must have been a chemical pregnancy, but still heartbreaking when you have never tested positive before.

    At least we took that as a sign that we were able to get pregnant, but as I have just turned 35 we didn't really feel we had too much time left to just "wait and see what happens". All our tests came back normal which was a bit of a puzzle to us, but since we were then on top of the waiting list and were asked if we wanted to go ahead and get IVF we agreed that it would probably be the best option, so we went for it, and luckily the first treatment was successful.

    I still have to pinch my arm sometimes because I find it so difficult to believe that I'm actually pregnant, but the scans don't lie and I've seen the little heartbeat in week 8 and 13, so just waiting for the blood results from the last scan (fingers crossed). Btw. I did go through the NHS, but what I have found out in this forum is that every treatment is slightly different in terms of what hormones are being used, what protocol you're on etc. But in the end I think they try to customise each treatment to each individual as we all have different backgrounds, and if first cycle doesn't work they might change something for future treatments.

    I'm sure it will work out for you too as odds are really good these days, but of course there are never any guarantees and that's what's so frustrating when we just want to be in control!

    All the best and good luck with your appointment on Wednesday. :-)

  • Hi there WhatAwait i thought I would get in touch I see how you are doing? I hope the pregnancy going well. I am about to start my first IVF after having to re-do my tubes patency test. Thankfully tubes were fine. Finally getting some help and whilst I am sad we are now having to face IVF, I am glad we are getting some much needed help. The pain of trying and trying and period after period has got me very down :-(

    Anyway, I wanted to ask if your IVF that works was your first round and if you had an endometrial scratch as part of the process. It's meant to help improve the womb lining for implantation but you're meant to do it in the cycle you start the down regulator drugs so you cannot have sex/try naturally in that cycle. Thinking I might just have the IVF on its own then do the endometrial scratch on the next round of I need to? Would be great to hear what you did, especially as you have been successful :-)

  • Hi Hopeful Anna - nice to hear from you. The pregnancy is going well, thanks. I'm at week 29 today, so not long to go (due on Christmas day, but because of IVF they will induce me slightly earlier).

    No, I did not have an endometrial scratch, but I don't really understand the issue with not being able to try natural for that month? The month that I was down regulating was the same cycle I was having my egg collection and embryo transfer, so then you won't be trying naturally anyway. I did choose to wait a month to get treated after my HSG though as I heard that chances are much higher after the tubes have been cleared, but no luck, so we just went ahead the following month after that, and it worked in the first try :-)

    We already know that we're having a girl and she's moving around quite a lot now, so it feels real now.

    Best of luck with your treatment. It's definitely worth it! And just let me know if you have any other questions - although I might not be able to answer all.

  • Thank you for your reply and amazing news that you are so far along. How lovely!

    I Ma on the long protocol so my treatment spreads over 2 cycles. The down regulators start on day 21 of this cycle then I have to wait for novembers period before scans and starting stimulation drugs. The EC and ET will be in novembers cycle but the potential endometrial scratch would have to be this cycle/month (ie a month before the actual EC/ET) which is what I am having issues with. It would mean no chance of getting pregnant in this month. Guess it wouldn't happen anyway but the thought of giving up that one cycle before EC/ET is a tough call.

    Most people are offered it if the first IVF doesn't work but some docs are suggested inch everyone has it from the first round. Good to hear your success on your first round with no endometrial scratch! Think it's cemented that I should give it a go without first. Hope we get our baby news soon :-)

    Good luck with your pregnancy, so happy you managed to get lucky.

    Another success story :-)

  • Thank you very much. Just to make sure I also had the long protocol, but I don't think we'll get the same treatment.

    I had a one time downregulation (prostap injection) on day 21, but just didn't count the days before that injection as treatment. Then I had to wait for my period and then start the daily injections after the scan. So it took about a month from the first injection to the ET.

    Whatever you choose I wish you all the best. It's all so individual what works, so it's very difficult to compare, but the system finds better ways to improvement all the time, so fingers crossed!

  • Ahhh yes similar then! Yeah I have to start injections on day 21 (bursellin) then stims and scans on next period. Can try naturally this month as technically possible even on down regulators as they start after ovulation. Think we'll just go only it as positive as we can be and hope for a miracle. If there are any tips you can pass on diet wise or Anything else, feel free to share. All the best to you wth your pregnacy too. X

  • Well, to be honest I'm not sure how big a difference the diet makes, but you always want to do the best (better safe than sorry..), no? It's the same with exercise. I would say do what you believe in and feel best with.

    Personally I stayed off the caffeine for the first 12 weeks or more, but now I have a daily cup of coffee in the morning. I also tried to live healthy with fish and salads and limited sugar, but now I'm not too strict anymore - just trying to live without too much processed food and cook from scratch.

    I still don't touch alcohol, but take a daily pregnacare (in the first many weeks though I had been taken folic acid, vitamin D and omega 3 seperately) and then my midwife told me to take 75 mg (baby) aspirin daily until delivery because it's good for the placenta.

    That's about it really. If it works it works and I don't believe there's so much you can do to change the outcome but keeping your fingers crossed! I hope the best for you.

  • Hi AnnaV - I'm sorry to hear about your journey so far, it seems we all have a battle before we get to this point :( The good news is that you're in the right place if you have questions or need to vent as we all do from time to time :)

    Like the ladies have said everyone's journey is different. The thing to remember is that, all of the investigations, the poking and the jabbing are short term and the outcomes can be amazing. I experienced some pain during my collection but in the grand scheme of things it's now irrelevant as I'm 6w 3d pregnant :) You will be offered pain relief/sedation during some processes. For others everyone has some remedy of how they managed the pain; hot water bottles, acupuncture, diet etc.

    The best advice I could give is take it one step at a time. If you're unsure about something ask. Make yourself as well-informed as you possibly can but ultimately we have to have faith in the experts that are treating us.

    Lots of luck to you - keep in touch x x x

  • Thanks for your reply to my post and congratulations on your pregnancy. Another success story - I really find these inspiring. Can I ask if you went through the NHS or private? I am worried about wait times for NHS or if I will be allowed to have it - depending on HSG results.

    I think I need to find a good self-help book or get some counselling to deal with my fear of pain and waiting for results. I never expected that we would face this battle or anticipated how difficult it would be… its been so hard since our loss and only now are we on a new road after the HSG test. I will get full results on Weds 29th June where we will know more about why my womb and 2nd tube didn't show up! I can only hope its a reasonable explanation but I don't want to fool myself either. Its all very strange and worrying not having answers for 2 weeks already.

    I think you are right, best to keep well informed and share my experience with others who have been through similar, we can all help each other.


  • Hi Anna - we went NHS as we are entitled to three free goes. As I'm 31 it made sense for us. From our initial consultation at the clinic to starting treatment was 6 months but from our first GP appt where the referral was made to completion of treatment was a year.

    At our clinic woman 35+ were fast tracked as were some couples with exceptional circumstances so it might be worth asking if this is the case at your clinic.

    I hope you get the answers you're looking for on Wednesday, the uncertainty of everything makes all the waiting even worse. Lots of luck with it all, keep in touch x x x

  • We had private treatment (due to age) after 2 mcs from natural conceptions. It took a while to get over the shock that we needed ICSI. I felt very anxious about the process but felt better once treatment started. The clinic went through the treatment and gave me a time line. It ticked off each little stage so it seemed less daunting. The dates they give you are a bit of a guess as they don't know how we'll respond to the drugs so changes to dates and drug dosage are to be expected. You have to get used to waiting!

  • Hi ladies, just checking in to see how you're all doing? I'm about to start my first IVF cycle with bursellin down reg injections starting in just a few weeks. I know more about the process but still feel a little nervous and sad about it all. Trying to decide if I should have an endometrial scratch or not, that's my the hardest part! If anyone has any stories, advice/tips or anything to share that would be great xx

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