IVF Treatment: The Extreme Sport of the Fertility World


With a book excerpt from K.K. Goldberg

Summer reading: Dr. and Stork Blog Series part 1

Dr and Stork pixAhhhh, the long days of summer … perfect for reading under the shade of a tree. I was forced to do summer reading as a kid, but now I live for the hour or so I can steal away to read something for fun on a weekend. Inspired by memories of summer reading, I have teamed up with local author K.K. Goldberg to help make the mandatory educational blogs about IVF more interesting, and to provide you with a little entertainment.

Please enjoy the next five installments of this Dr. and Stork Blog Series as I share excerpts from K.K. Goldberg’s The Doctor and The Stork: A Memoir of Modern Medical Babymaking. If you enjoy these excerpts, then you will love reading the entire book, where Kathryn shares her fears and triumphs with humor and honesty. She chronicles the events after in vitro fertilization (IVF) as well, bringing wit and sarcasm to what can be an intimidating pregnancy and delivery of twins. You can buy the book on Amazon.com.

Part 1: Potions from a Voodoo Priest

When Ken and I headed to the FedEx store to pick up our box of drugs, $5,000 worth, shipped overnight, I felt so incredibly tired, despite having slept twelve hours the night before. As much as I dreaded IVF, as many times as I had said, “That’s not for me,” here we were, counting the hours until the first shot.

I told myself that at least it was something to do, something besides waiting. By then I spoke  acronym—I knew the difference between FSH (mine was high) and HSG (tubes were open)—and had done an MRI, along with two saline sonograms and a fibroid surgery. I’d rejected IUI, so all that remained now was IVF. It was the extreme sport of the fertility world, in terms of pain and cost, but I’d turned thirty-nine and my husband, Ken, was forty-two. We’d been snowed in at base camp after years of training. It was time to make the climb.

So I balanced the package beneath my chin, arms held straight at my hips. It wasn’t heavy, at least not in the literal sense. I felt a mild surprise, upon seeing it, that this carton, filled with needles, vials, suppositories, pills, and a red plastic sharps container, had my name on it. With that freight, there was no turning back. I should mention that I distrusted doctors and feared almost anything related to traditional medicine. For me, these drugs were potions from a voodoo priest. They seemed to work for some people, though—about one in four.

-K.K. Goldberg

Kathryn has artfully addressed one of the scariest parts of IVF for most couples – the medication. Not only is it incredibly expensive, but many of the medications are given through injection, and the Internet is filled with horror stories of possible side effects.

However, I have found that after the initial few shots, patients (or their partners) become accustomed to the routine and actually recognize that the shots are the means to an important end – a baby.

It is important to tell your doctor about your concerns or fears as there are some protocols for IVF that require 55 shots over 2 weeks and some that require “only” 17. I have also referred patients to hypnotists, acupuncturists and psychotherapists to help conquer their fear of needles.

In addition, I have found that the side effects of the shots are less intense than Clomid for most women. Clomid induces a mini-menopause then subsequently whips you back out of the depths of low estrogen to soar you up to high production. While this is a less expensive way to produce multiple follicles, it is harder on the emotions for many women.

The fertility shots slowly increase the typical symptoms women feel as they near ovulation, the bloating, fatigue and mild queasiness. By the end of 10-13 days of stimulation from the shots, most women are not able to wear their skinny jeans or exercise, as their ovaries are big. Sudden jolts from a bump in the road in a car can cause discomfort, but resting seems to make it better.

With newer protocols that include a Lupron trigger and “freeze all cycles,” fewer women are developing the dreaded OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) after egg retrieval that can cause ovarian/abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

So while at times the IVF meds may seem like “potions from a Voodoo priest,” the end result is a healthy batch of eggs, ripe for harvesting!

-Dr. Mary Hinckley 

Look for Part 2 of the Dr. and Stork Blog Series: Your life, like your body, will be stretched to the limit


The Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area is a leading pioneer in infertility treatments including IVF with egg donation and LGBTQ family building. We’ll work with you to help you achieve your dreams of having a baby.

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