If you are having difficulty becoming pregnant and considering in vitro fertilisation (IVF), you might want to know what to expect, such as how long IVF takes, what risks are involved, and how to cope with any emotional stress you may experience.
How long does IVF take?
IVF takes a while. When you are first considering it, you will need to talk to your doctor and get a referral to an IVF clinic or an infertility specialist. You may also want to think about other options such as adoption and donor sperm.
You and your partner will need to have a number of physical examinations and tests such as ultrasounds, sperm analysis and blood tests.
Once you start IVF, you go through a lot of steps involving visits to clinics and laboratories.
If the first cycle is successful, you are on your way. But if not, you may decide to try again with one or more additional cycles. You may be advised to wait a month or 2 between cycles.
Stress and emotional support
Not many people get lucky first time - most people have a few cycles of treatment and some couples do not fall pregnant at all. This can be an emotional rollercoaster for you, especially if you have already been trying to have a baby for a few years. You and your partner will also be receiving hormone medications that can affect your mood, potentially impacting on your emotional and sexual relationship.
You will be offered counselling before you begin treatment. You should also consider ongoing counselling to help cope with any emotional or relationship issues you or your partner may experience.
Joining a fertility support group can also help you cope with any challenges you may experience during IVF treatment.
You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak with a maternal child health nurse for advice and support.
Apart from not falling pregnant, the most common risk of IVF is multiple pregnancy. Having one child is an adventure; having twins can give extra joy, but can also increase the demands on you and your partner.
It is also possible for the ovaries to be stimulated too much, causing bad pain and swelling. This is known as 'ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome'.
Other risks can include:
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Last reviewed: September 2019