Pursuing IVF Treatment for Our Infertility
As a result of Trikafta, there’s been a huge baby boom in the CF community among women. As much as I am happy for those women, I am sad for myself as I haven’t been one of them. We haven’t joined the celebrations of carrying our Trikafta baby just yet. I detailed a bit about our fertility testing and Intrauterine.
Insemination experience previously on this page. Unfortunately, those procedures didn’t help us get pregnant. As a couple, we have decided to move on to In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. Here are my thoughts about our decision and some of the anxiety I am feeling before we begin our treatment.
The IVF process
IVF is an assisted reproductive procedure (ART) in which eggs and sperm are combined manually in a laboratory and transferred back into a woman in hopes of a pregnancy.1 It’s a pretty complex process, but put simple IVF works like this:
The woman uses injectable fertility medications to grow more than 1 egg to be harvested. One cycle can harvest 10-15 eggs for an individual. After the egg retrieval, the eggs are fertilized with sperm and grown in a laboratory until they are 5 days old, or what is called a blastocyst.
After the embryos mature, one is transferred back into the uterus to implant into a pregnancy or frozen for a future transfer. Any leftover embryos are frozen for future use. There are many medications, ultrasounds, and bloodwork taken throughout the retrieval and embryo transfer to help guide the doctors and improve success of a healthy pregnancy.
IVF in the setting of CF
In cystic fibrosis, IVF can be a successful treatment in helping a couple conceive by completely bypassing the thick cervical mucus and hormone imbalance that impacts fertility in women with CF. It has a much higher success rate than other fertility treatments which can be a positive factor in order to take advantage of health stability.
In men with CF, IVF is extremely helpful because the sperm can be extracted through a procedure called Testicular Sperm Aspiration (TESA) and then combined with the eggs in the lab.2 Without IVF, men with CF are considered infertile since the sperm cannot travel out of the body.
In addition, with IVF a couple can use genetic testing to ensure their embryos do not have CF if they are wishing to do that.
My anxiety moving forward
Cost of IVF
I feel like even if you have only heard of IVF in the media or know someone who has gone through it, most likely you also have heard it’s an extremely expensive process. Correction: it’s stupid expensive. Most insurances don't cover infertility treatments and everything is paid out of pocket. Even after paying for IVF, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a baby. Therefore, the financial sacrifice of IVF has been weighing heavily on my mind before we begin our treatment.
In light of COVID and just CF in general, I am trying especially hard to stay healthy and stable while we go through fertility treatment. Our IVF treatment could be cancelled at any point if either one of us gets sick. Talk about stressful with a global pandemic going on. However, I just finished IV antibiotics around Christmas, so I hope my lungs will continue to be infection-free for the next few months.
IVF is a very emotionally stressful process, with many ups and downs and U-turns. There’s so many factors that you can’t control and so many opportunities for things to go wrong throughout the treatment. Also, there’s a lot riding on the hope of success--time, money, physical discomfort, and emotional vulnerability.
As with anything you hope to have success with, you have to stay calm and positive moving forward and believe it will work, otherwise it’s just too much to bear.
Have you or anyone you know gone through IVF? What tips do you have for navigating a stressful procedure? Share in the comments below or in our forums.
Have you (or a loved one) been experiencing any negative side effects from Trikafta?