Handling the wait on your IVF journey

Trying to conceive through Assisted Reproductive Therapies (ART) like In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) can be tough on your feelings, your body and your relationships – and just how difficult it is can often only truly appreciated by those who have been through it, because many of the experiences on a fertility journey are rarely discussed… like the waiting.

Most couples who have undergone IVF treatment talk about the waiting part of becoming a parent through ART as one of the most difficult aspects of their fertility journey. In this article, we look at what couples going through IVF have to wait for and how you can make this aspect of fertility treatment a little easier.

While Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) such as In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) are medical procedures that treat the medical conditions that cause infertility, these therapies are not just medical procedures – the fertility journey can be a rollercoaster of emotions through disappointment, hope and love that affect every aspect of your life.

It spans the shock of realising the challenges ahead, the tears of joy when you receive a positive test result, and the heartache when setbacks come. It’s about accepting deep loss, finding the strength to keep going, and holding tight to the dream of creating the family you want. Indeed, behind every IVF story, there’s a profound tale of determination and unwavering love.

Trying to conceive is both an emotionally and physically challenging journey, and sadly there are aspects of this experience that are not always openly discussed. One aspect of the fertility journey and particularly the IVF process that many couples highlight as the most difficult to cope with is the length of time that is spent waiting during the treatment.

The IVF treatment timeline

Very simply stated, during in vitro fertilisation the female partner’s eggs (ovum) are collected and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The embryo is then implanted into the uterus.

While the process sounds relatively simple, IVF is not a single medical procedure or event, but a series of procedures completed over several weeks. From the first day of the cycle to the pregnancy test completed 14 days after the egg retrieval, the entire IVF process spans around 28 days!

And there is a lot of waiting involved.

Waiting for test results

Fertility tests and evaluations are a vital because they provide crucial insights that help your fertility team to better understand your unique path to parenthood. They can include hormone assessments, semen analysis and a variety of other tests for both partners.

Many couples undergoing IVF treatment say that waiting for those test results can be nerve-wracking! While they are eager to know, to understand, and to take the next steps in their lives, the waiting can seem unbearable.

Waiting for ovulation

Another wait that infertility couples endure is waiting for ovulation.

Intercourse at the right time is crucial to conceive. That is because conception can really only take place during a brief window of just a few days each month, which is around ovulation. Timing intercourse means monitoring the female partner’s monthly cycle to determine to optimal time to become pregnant.

Waiting to take a pregnancy test

But the longest and most difficult wait for most couples that are undergoing IVF treatment is the two-week waiting period after the embryo is implanted during IVF.

Once the embryo is placed in the female partner’s uterus, couples begin the long two weeks of waiting – the time between ovulation and the expected start of the next menstrual cycle -before taking a pregnancy test.

All couples who have had IVF treatments know the feeling – those 14 days seem to stretch on forever while waiting for the right time to take the pregnancy test.

Even just deciding when to take a pregnancy test is a significantly stressful decision. Some couples choose to test sooner, hoping for an early positive result, while others prefer to wait until the expected period date to avoid potential false negatives. The choice of a test date adds another layer of anxiety.

The two week wait itself is a significant and emotionally charged period for couples who are trying to conceive. It’s a mix of hope, excitement, and a great deal of anxiety, worry and uncertainty.

Couples often feel a sense hope and anticipation that feature strongly during this time. They are hopeful and excited that this might be the month when they finally achieve their goal of becoming pregnant!

Alongside the hope and excitement, anxiety is a common emotion during the two-week wait. Couples may experience anxiety about whether their efforts to conceive were successful. Every twinge or unusual sensation in the body can trigger worries and questions about whether it’s a sign of pregnancy.

Many say that the uncertainty can be particularly challenging. Not knowing whether conception has occurred or not can be agonising, and the uncertainty about the outcome of the procedure can be difficult to manage.

Impact on your mental health

The reality is also that these emotions do not come round just once or twice, or one at a time. Rather, the two-week wait can feel like an endless up-and-down emotional rollercoaster.

There are days of optimism and excitement, followed by moments of doubt and discouragement. It can be difficult to manage these fluctuating emotions, and it can take a toll on one’s mental well-being.

How to manage the waiting

It’s important to recognise that the two-week wait can be emotionally challenging, and that each person’s experience is unique.

Some couples may experience success during this period, while others may face disappointment. Support, communication and self-care are essential during this time to manage the emotional ups and downs that come with trying to conceive.

During this time, it’s important to remember a few things:

* Patience is your superpower. Building a family takes time, especially when fertility treatment is involved, but one step at a time you get closer to your dream.

* Anxiety is a normal part of this process. Remember, your hearts’ desires as a couple are on the line, and it’s okay to feel a little jittery, worried or anxious.

* Sharing your feelings can help ease the tension and make the wait a bit more bearable.

Many couples rely on each other for support during this time. Sharing their feelings, fears and hopes can help them navigate the waiting period together.

* A support system to lean can be immensely helpful. Some couples may also seek support from friends, family, fellow fertility warriors in the same boat, or online communities that offer incredible support as they understand what you’re going through.

* You are not alone in your fertility journey. Your fertility team is always available to offer support, advice and care, including professional counselling.

* When that pregnancy test day finally arrives, know that you’re stronger and more resilient than you think.

* Remember, this IVF cycle and this test result is just one step in your unique fertility journey. No matter the result, your story is beautiful, unique and full of hope – stay positive, stay hopeful, and most importantly, stay kind to yourself.

Reach out for world class support

The best way to handle the waiting that is part of the IVF journey is to surround yourself with a team of fertility experts, who support you every step of the way. Simply reach out to us by clicking here

At Cape Fertility, we value each individual patient and we look forward to providing you with individualised and personalised care, affordable quality fertility treatment, and higher success rates at our purpose-built premises in the beautiful city of Cape Town.