How to Create Your Own Personalized IVF Plan
Have you ever used Google Maps and been redirected midway via a better route? Alternatively, maybe you’re proactive in managing traffic and go directly to Waze to get you from point A to point B in the most time effective way? These apps are well-loved and widely used because they remove obstacles out of an otherwise potentially painful process, and they do so with data.
I bring the beauty of Google Maps into my fertility care by serving as a personal navigator for every one of my patient’s IVF care and talked about it here.
We tell these apps where we want to go, they determine our starting point and formulate a plan. It’s not a one-size fits-all-route; it is customized and updated in real-time to avoid the proverbial bumps along the way. I would get lost daily without this personalized navigation.
Personalized Navigation for Fertility
I bring the beauty of Google Maps into my fertility care by serving as a personal navigator for every one of my patient’s IVF care. It’s the approach required for every IVF patient to have their best chance at getting to their point B, which is a healthy pregnancy.
To be clear, I’m in no way advocating for automation of IVF treatment through an app. In fact, I’m arguing that human involvement is imperative in your care. However, the logic sequence between a navigation app and personalized fertility care is the same. There are many potential routes and obstacles, and therefore no standard path to get to your destination: a baby.
The route is different for every patient and so is your starting point. It depends on how many children you want, your sex, your age, your health, your hormone levels and your partner’s health. All these factors necessitate a custom route to get you to the kind of family that you imagine.
It’s Starts with Diagnosis
In all fertility health and IVF, your starting point for treatment is specific to your diagnosis. As a result, the steps you’ll take will all be specific to your unique needs. Your needs include diagnostic and genetic tests that you’ll take and the plan and expectations that you’ll need to set with your doctor. If you’re ready to start IVF, you’re doing so because you know your diagnosis and understand that it’s the best path to pregnancy for you.
If you’re ready to start IVF, you’re doing so because you know your diagnosis and understand that it’s the best path to pregnancy for you.
Congratulations on making this step. It’s not one to be taken lightly. You’ve likely already experienced an emotional roller coaster, and can expect it to continue. I want to make sure that you have the best care, and if you’re not working with me directly that you’re equipped with the knowledge to evaluate and steer the care you’re getting to give you the best chance of success.
How to Create Your Own Personalized IVF Plan
1. Understand what your diagnosis is and work to improve factors that are within your control:
If you’re overweight, then commit to a plan to get to a healthy BMI.
If your partner has poor sperm quality or low testosterone, then understand what lifestyle factors can be adjusted to improve each.
2. Understand your reproductive genetic profile:
Your reproductive genetic profile includes diagnostic DNA testing, extended carrier screening, cancer screening, and other tests that your doctor might think are appropriate for you.
Diagnostic DNA Testing
These tests are like a crystal ball into your genetic markers for specific conditions that may be hurting your chances of getting pregnant. For example, there are genes for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, recurrent pregnancy loss and Endometriosis. These tests can help guide your doctors to make smart decisions about your specific treatment protocol.
Extended Carrier Screening
This test will help determine if you are a carrier for a genetic disorder. I know that may sound scary, but trust me when I say this, you want to know all of your risk factors before conception. Surprise parties are fun. Surprise genetic screening findings…not so much. Finding out, for example, that you are a carrier for cystic fibrosis or Taysach’s disease may result in a panic if your partner has not been tested. Be thorough upfront. Know what you can before you transfer embryos. Often this information help you decide to do Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGD) on your embryos to ensure that the one you transfer doesn’t carry a genetic condition. Getting more information upfront will make you more emotionally prepared for what may unfold and help you make better choices.
3. Make sure the protocol you’re using is designed just for you:
Ask questions, and lots of them. Here are a few to guide conversations with your fertility doctor.
– Should I be on birth control?
– Should I use HGH? HGH is a steroid used by elite athletes to help regenerate cells and improve DNA. There’s been some evidence that it can help improve egg quality.
– What medications do you plan to put me on, and why?
– How many mature eggs do you expect to get from me?
– How many babies can I expect to get from this cycle?
– How many cycles should I be doing?
4. Before your doctor transfers your embryos discuss the results of your cycle.
Ask him or her to review the embryo quality with you including each one’s MitoScore, which is a preimplantation genetic screening test. The MitoScore calculates the amount of mitochondrial DNA in each embryo or how much energy an embryo has. Knowing this information helps to select the embryos with a higher potential for implantation, which increases your chance of a healthy pregnancy.
I have patients ask, “What are the pregnancy rates of someone who is 40?” I always respond by talking about the embryo’s MitoScore, and explain that with this data I can tell whether an embryo has a 10% chance of implanting or an 85% chance.
After you receive this score for your embryos, it’s an excellent time to vocalize how many kids you want as this factors into the number of cycles you undergo. I can’t stress this enough; make sure you do enough cycles to give you enough embryos for your future desired family size!
Making this decision doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant naturally after IVF, but if you’ve had a struggle with conceiving your first, it may not be comfortable with your second.
5. Set the stage for the most welcoming home for your embryo:
The time for implantation testing isn’t after a precious embryo didn’t implant, but right before your doctor transfers it. So it’s essential that your body and uterus is in the best possible condition for the embryos to provide the best home.
Confirm with your doctor that your lining has the proper texture and thickness. Ask if there is any inflammation in the lining?
Find out from your doctor how many hours of progesterone your body needs to have the ideal receptive window.
Look at the elements in your life and how they may factor into your overall stress. Do whatever you can to find more peace in the weeks of your shots, retrieval and transfer day.
Above all, go into your transfer day with no questions unanswered.
I hope this guide has been helpful. I want to give you the highest chance of a healthy pregnancy from IVF and never to look back and wonder if you could have done something differently.
Personalized fertility care is the only way to navigate your IVF treatment.
To learn more about navigating your IVF treatment and other fertility topics, tune into The Egg Whisperer Show. Episodes are live-streamed onYouTube, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST.