Whenever folks stumble upon a blog about IUI or IVF, they’ve already given this topic some thought. Perhaps, you are finding it difficult to conceive and wondering what could be causing the issue. Maybe, you understand what is or has been causing the issue with conception, and now you’re ready to learn your next possible steps. Or, you have spoken to your provider and you know what steps are next and you just want to hear from other women about the process or what to possibly expect.
Whatever your reason, welcome!
Let’s break down some of these terms –
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is the placing of sperm into a woman's uterus when she is ovulating. This procedure is used for couples with unexplained infertility, LGBTQ+ families/couples, minimal male factor infertility, and women with cervical mucus problems.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction in which a man's sperm and a woman's eggs are combined outside of the body in a laboratory dish. One or more fertilized eggs (embryos) may be transferred into the woman's uterus, where they may implant in the uterine lining and develop.
It’s important to understand if your insurance covers these medical procedures or if you are choosing to pay out of pocket. If you are paying out of pocket, feel free to scroll down to the nooks and crannies of the procedures.
Navigating insurance can be challenging, as you’ll need to know what steps must be taken prior to completing the IUI or IVF process. In many cases, a person must have 3 failed attempts of IUI before the insurance will medically approve IVF cycles. However, speak to your provider or insurance carrier regarding the steps prior to getting the IUI approved. This will be different for some based on your individual medical reasons for infertility. If that reason happens to be “blocked Fallopian tubes” you’ll need to have a HSG or Femvue. Both of these exams ensure that there is no blockage in your Fallopian tubes.
Let’s break down these terms:
A hysterosalpingogram (#HSG) is a procedure that uses an X-ray to look at your fallopian tubes and uterus.
#FemVue is an in-office procedure to help your doctor make sure your fallopian tubes are open and clear–so that an egg and sperm can join.
Many people often want to know if these tests are painful. Well, let’s just say that’s based on your pain threshold and if there is some sort of blockage or perhaps a fibroid laying on your tubes then the exams can be painful. The pain stems from the saline of blue dye trying to make its way through your tubes and being blocked off. This can feel uncomfortable to some and painful to others. Again, think of our own pain threshold.
Once the HSG or Femvue findings are available, they are reviewed by your provider and sent to your insurance carrier.
These steps seem pretty straightforward and simple, right? Umm…maybe…
Now, let’s add in emotions and feelings of wanting to bring life into the world, the desire to be a nurturer, being called “mom,” connecting with your partner through a new baby, and growing your family.
Many of your appointments will take place between day 6 and 12 of your cycle, and if you’ve felt emotional during your menstrual cycle before then this will be no different.
Emotions are high as soon as a person is told there are infertility issues. There is no taking this feeling away; however, I would suggest beginning therapy or a holistic practice such as acupuncture, light exercise, meditation, breathing techniques and mindfulness.
Women can be very hard on themselves especially when battling infertility. It’s this concept of trying to find out “what’s wrong with me…what did I do wrong…why is my body failing me…why wasn’t I blessed with the ability to bring life into this world…?” Negative thoughts about infertility become intrusive and self-blame is always first on the list. This cycle of negative thoughts, sadness and anxiety causes more stress on the body, and stress is the direct opposite of what your body needs to procreate. With that being said, I’m not saying that you should walk around jolly like old Saint Nick. However, I am saying that it’s important to remove self-blame. It’s important to continue to care for your health and that definitely includes your mental health! Stay grounded in who you were before deciding to try IUI/IVF, use a journal to write through the process, talk to your partner, identify a support friend or network, find a really great therapist who understands the infertility process and perinatal care, and lastly practice holistic care such as #acupuncture, #meditation, and #mindfulness techniques.
There are many fertility clinics that are now offering webinars on egg freezing, understanding the IUI and IVF processes, understanding hormones and your body. Utilize these resources to strengthen your education in these areas. I’ve always found that increasing my own knowledge on a subject gives me a better handle on the information and what to expect. Being a well-informed patient is a sense of empowerment. It provides a foundation and allows you to develop a voice to ask questions along the way. Try fertility clinics like Kindbody, which offer great webinars, counseling, infertility care, and holistic practices.
Throughout each step of your IUI or IVF process there are an influx of emotions. For some, the sense of hope is high every time they get to a new appointment and any additional step can almost feel like a setback. When emotions are attached to each step and appointment, it makes it challenging to accept medical feedback from an educational standpoint, as this is also accompanied with disappointment if that next step is not the one that was previously discussed by the patient and the healthcare provider.
I’ve worked with a lot of women who have expressed a desire to test for pregnancy after each time they are sexual intimate with their partner. In addition, there are times when some will test for pregnancy if their menstrual cycle is just a day late. Each of these experiences come with extreme disappointment and sadness when the test says negative. This disappointment returns to the that sense of questioning mentioned in the beginning…
Then self-blame returns.
Obviously, this will be different if and when that test says positive! However, depending on the history of the expecting mother, sometimes worry and anxiety creep in. Where does this come from? If an expectant mom has been through previous miscarriages, then trauma and a reminder of that experience returns.
What I want to share is that the process of choosing to bring life into this world is tremendous and choosing IUI and IVF is also a major step. Give yourself grace, if and when negative thoughts cross your mind; write down your positive affirmations and list the things you are grateful for. Gratitude and positive affirmations help to combat negative thoughts. Use meditation and deep breathing to work through and channel anxiety and anxious moments. Create a nurturing routine for yourself, whether that’s reading one chapter of a book, writing in your journal, drinking herbal tea, having a great conversation with your bestie, whatever lifts you up, do just that. Maintain communication with your medical team, be informed and empowered. If you want a second opinion, do what you need to make yourself feel comfortable. A most of all, don’t blame yourself. Please love yourself!