We turned to Dr. Kyriakidis from Embryolab fertility clinic and asked him to explain what happens to the body after a round of IVF. Are there after effects? Do your hormones return to normal? This is what he said…
Before we talk about the body after a round of IVF, let’s understand what happens to a woman’s (and don’t forget a man’s) body during IVF.
Your fertility specialist needs to monitor and control your hormones. The first step is down-regulation and the reason is you want to avoid premature ovulation. So, in this concept, the doctor needs to shut down your hormones. There are various agents and protocols for down-regulation and their side effects may range from simple heat flushes to mood swings. The good news is that the most recent and updated protocols are patient-friendly and you rarely experience any of those side effects.
The next step is to stimulate the ovaries in order to recruit eggs and this happens with another set of hormones. Now, these hormones are not different from the ones your own body produces and they work the same way. What changes is the dose! The doctor will need to increase the levels of these hormones in your bloodstream so as to recruit and support the growing follicles and eggs. The stimulation of multiple follicles will in turn increase the internal production of estrogen and this is the main reason of the side effects. Estrogens may cause boating, nausea, feeling of fatigue and certainly mood swings. Actually, these side effects are similar during the preparation for transfer for the same reason. Hopefully, women will get pregnant at the end of this process and these symptoms will endure because pregnancy has the same side effects!!!
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a very rare complication these days (EMBRYOLAB is an OHSS-free clinic for more than 7 years!) but it can happen in any stimulation cycle. A fertility specialist knows how to manage this situation and protect you from the short-term side effects. The positive thing is that OHSS does not have any long-term side effects and most women will forget the problem in a few weeks.
For the man, things are slightly simpler unless he needs to go through some form of medical treatment as well. But do not forget of the emotional burden he needs to go through in order to support and help his partner during this process.
What happens when all this ends?
Many would think that some residual hormones remain but this is not the case. If you are planning for a subsequent embryo transfer, you will need to wait for your period and this is the point where your body will flush out all the hormones it has produced and reboot. On the other hand, if you choose to proceed to a fresh embryo-transfer, then your body is already producing the necessary hormones to support the future pregnancy until the placenta kicks in.
It is reasonable for women to experience emotional mood swings during IVF. This is mostly the result of elevated hormone levels and they rarely last more than the IVF round. But do not forget that it’s not only the hormones. An IVF round is an investment of the couple and this can induce anxiety and subconscious stress which could cause mood swings. Understanding the need for emotional support, EMBRYOLAB has a phycologist-councillor included in the medical team to help and guide our couples during their IVF journey.
How soon can a patient start the next round?
Before answering this question, you need to understand the value of a failed IVF. Any treatment cycle provides data that can be used to further locate the underlying fertility problem and identify any special physical characteristics of the couple. This will help your doctor to further personalise his/her approach to your treatment. So, do not rush into another round straight away. Allow one or two months of intermission not only to clear your thoughts and your body but also to help your doctor re-evaluate your file and modify your treatment if necessary. A couple could even try to conceive naturally during this period of time. Remember that approximately 17% of couples who are planning to have IVF will get pregnant before or in between IVF rounds. The most probable reason is that your body is boosted from the previous treatment so it regulates the timing of ovulation. Another reason could be that the couple’s efforts become more consistent and synchronized.
Knowing the changes that your body will go through during IVF, you do realise the physical and emotional effort you need to invest. EMBRYOLAB has two decades of experience and is dedicated to provide support to all couples during their IVF journey and lead them to a successful outcome.
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