In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a series of procedures used to treat fertility and other genetic problems to assist you in conceiving a child. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology currently available, but your chances of conceiving through IVF depend on several factors, including your age and the cause of your or your partner’s infertility. There are steps you can take to prepare yourself for the procedure both physically and mentally for a higher success rate. A healthy, nutritional diet high in protein is important to maximize your egg production as a woman, whereas mentally you may need to prepare yourself for regular injections and fertility testing.
Understand the process of receiving IVF.
Before you embark on IVF treatment, you should be well aware of the process of doing IVF to better prepare yourself and your partner, if you are going to do IVF with the support of a partner. IVF involves five main steps: ovulation induction, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer. One cycle of IVF will take about two weeks and you may require more than one cycle to conceive. The process of receiving IVF involves three phases:
- Phase 1: You will be given fertility shots to increase follicle production and stop your ovulation. You will have multiple visits to your doctor for blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds.
- Phase 2: Once the eggs mature, there is minor surgery to retrieve them. An embryologist will prepare the eggs and place them in a petri dish. The sperm is then introduced by injecting a single sperm into each egg.
- Phase 3: After the eggs are fertilized, the eggs’ cells continue to divide until Day 3 or Day 5, when the embryos are transferred. The embryos are screened for disabilities such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and Down syndrome, if desired. You will then need to decide how many embryos you would like to transfer to your uterus, and if you would like the remaining embryos to be frozen.
Keep in mind the possibility of conceiving via IVF cannot be predicted, as each couple has possible factors, such as age and reproductive health, that can affect the success of the treatment. Your doctor should be able to give you a sense of the likelihood of pregnancy for you, based on your background and medical history. However, IVF is the most viable fertility treatment currently available and has been known to have a high rate of positive results.
Be aware of the risks of IVF.
IVF is a costly procedure and can take up a lot of your personal time. It can also be stressful and mentally draining, especially if you and your partner are struggling to conceive and have to go through several cycles of IVF before getting pregnant. Stress and anxiety can become big risks during the IVF process. There are several medical risks when you use IVF, including:
- Multiple births: IVF increases your risk of multiple births if more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus. If you become pregnant with multiple babies, you may have a higher risk of early labor.
- A premature delivery and a low birth weight.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: This occurs when your ovaries become swollen and painful. This syndrome can occur due to the use of injectable fertility drugs. You may experience symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you become pregnant, you may experience these symptoms for several weeks.
- A miscarriage: Though the rate of miscarriage for women who conceive using IVF is similar to that of women who conceive naturally, the rate can increase as the age of the mother increases. Using frozen embryos during IVF has been known to slightly increase the risk of a miscarriage. 
- Complications during the egg-retrieval procedure: The doctor will need to use an aspirating needle to the collect the eggs and this could cause bleeding, infection, or damage to your bowels, bladder, or a blood vessel.
- An ectopic pregnancy: This occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. About 2 to 5 percent of women who use IVF will have an ectopic pregnancy.
- Birth defects: there is evidence that the rate of birth defects in IVF pregnancies is slightly higher than in spontaneous pregnancies, but the exact mechanism for this is unclear.
Have the support of your partner and/or close family members.
IVF is a process that requires you have eight to ten injections a day, and go through many tests, as well as attend many doctor visits. During your IVF treatment, seek the support of your partner and/or close family members. You will need someone to learn how to inject you with fertility hormones several times a day, and you may need assistance when dealing with the side effects of these injections.
Get screened by your doctor for any fertility issues.
Before you begin IVF, your doctor will do several tests on you and your partner, if he is the sperm donor, to confirm your individual levels of fertility. Your doctor may do an ovarian reserve test, which will determine the quantity and quality of your eggs. This can be done through a blood test conducted during the first few days of your menstrual cycle. The test results, as well as an ultrasound of your ovaries, can help your doctor determine how your ovaries will respond to fertility medication.
Participate in a mock IVF cycle.
About a month prior to your first IVF treatment, your doctor may ask you to participate in a mock cycle. This will show you that you and/or your donor are responding well to the hormone therapies. During the mock cycle, your doctor will do an ultrasound 10-12 days into your estrogen enhanced cycle. This will help your doctor determine the depth of your uterine cavity and the technique that will be the most successful for placing the embryos in your uterus.