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The Infertility Words Just Roll Off Their Tongues

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a blog by Ellen Glazer, January 20, 2011

“I have done three IUIs (artificial inseminations) and four IVFs (in vitro fertilizations),” or “I’ve had four IVFs, two frozen embryo transfers, a chemical pregnancy and an ectopic pregnancy.”

These are but two examples of the introductions I hear each day. Women come in to see me and before I learn anything about them, such as where they live, what they do for work or for fun, or how old they are, they recite their recent fertility history. The words seem to roll off their tongues — three IVFs, four IVFs, sometimes even more. Often I have to remind myself to pause and think about what this really means. And I have to ask my clients to pause and tell me something more about themselves than their fertility stats.

IVF Is a Big Deal

I think that people in the midst of infertility treatment sometimes lose sight of what a big deal it is to go through an in vitro fertilization cycle. Surely going through any form of infertility diagnosis or treatment is difficult and challenging, but IVF — with its frequent testing, detailed and involved protocol, visit to an OR and periods of excruciating waiting — is incredibly challenging. I was reminded of this recently when a client of mine came in and recalled in detail how difficult she found each part of the cycle. She is a very talented, accomplished and sophisticated woman, but she ended her account by saying, “I feel like such a wimp. I meet so many women who take IVF in their stride. I can’t believe that I got so rattled over things that seem so easy for everyone else.”

I told her that I am not surprised that she was “rattled,” nor do I think, in any way, that she is a “wimp.” To the contrary, what amazes me is how so many women seem to take repeated IVF attempts in stride. When I pause to think of all that is involved and of how devastating it must be to hear that your pregnancy test was negative, I am awed by how so many women go through so much with so few complaints.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

So what is my point? I want to give credit where credit is due. I fear that women going though IVF have come to expect so much from themselves. In addition to coping with all the upsets of infertility — high costs; inability to make plans; losses of confidence, faith and self esteem; and dealing with a friend’s pregnancy, a baby shower invitation, etc., etc., women have to endure being poked and prodded and “evaluated” in terms of whether they are “good responders,” “have good eggs,” etc.

It’s a lot — a very lot to go through. If you are going through IVF now, or are the veteran of one or more IVF cycles, I hope you will give yourself the credit that is due. It takes patience, fortitude, resilience and a good sense of humor to make ones way through an IVF cycle.

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