Entering the world of fertility treatments for the first time can be an overwhelming process, to say the least. In my case, dual-factor infertility led my husband and I to pursue IVF to grow our family. However, everyone’s journey is different. With so many varying paths to consider when it comes to taking care of your reproductive health, what’s important to remember is that you’re certainly not walking alone. If you’re considering your own options, here are a few tips I wish I had known before beginning IVF:

1. Realistically, how much time I would need off work

Before going into IVF, I knew that I would be needing to request time off as part of the process. My husband and I had long been banking our sick time and PTO in preparation for this. In my case, our chosen fertility clinic is 90 minutes away from home, meaning that even early morning appointments often necessitated taking the whole day off, considering 3 hours of drive time. 

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We did get calendars: these are tentative appointment schedules for each part of the process. Generally, IVF patients will receive an egg retrieval calendar and an embryo transfer calendar, though these are always subject to change depending on various factors such as how your body responds to your medication protocol. Once I had my calendars in hand, I went ahead and requested time off for the appointment dates. Little did I know that I would be needing additional sick time, especially at the tail end of the stimulation process for egg retrieval. Physically, it was rough. 

I had envisioned working through this process as much as I could, but my body had other plans. I also ended up needing two additional recovery days after the egg retrieval procedure. Your body is going through a grueling process during IVF, so be sure to consider not only appointment schedules for time off but also time to rest and recover, both physically and emotionally. 

2. The hours I would spend on the phone

Phone calls about “grown-up things” used to make me nervous, but infertility has made me a pro. The time I spent on the phone not just with my fertility clinic and my insurance company, but also with the three separate specialty pharmacies we used in order to save money on all of my necessary fertility medications felt like a full-time job in and of itself. Having one streamlined pharmacy partner, as opposed to playing phone tag with many different providers, would have been incredibly helpful during this time. 

3. The amount of unsolicited advice I would receive 

I deeply wish I had known ahead of time the boundaries I would need to set when it came to "advice" from friends, family, distant acquaintances, and even strangers on the internet. While I’m sure they all meant well, it’s difficult to receive advice that you know will not help you, because “just relax and it will happen” would never cure our dual-factor infertility, as much as we would have loved for that to work. 

If anything, I began to find that advice from non-medical professionals sometimes made me feel like I was doing something wrong, even though I knew that my partner and I had medical conditions that no amount of relaxation, sticking my legs in the air after sex, multi-level marketing scams, or dietary changes alone could solve. In the 5 years my husband and spent trying to conceive, I’ve learned that setting boundaries is necessary to protect my own mental and emotional health. 

4. IVF isn’t the only answer when it comes to fertility struggles

Like many people, my journey toward an infertility treatment plan started at my OBGYN, moved to lab blood work I had to get done off-site, and finally landed at a carefully researched and chosen fertility clinic for IVF. While I love my team of doctors and I appreciate the help and support they’ve given and continue to show throughout my journey, I didn’t know that fertility testing could be done without running all over town for appointments, but rather from the comfort of my own home. 

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Famlee Fertility is an at-home fertility testing and treatment company that you can start using NOW to get information and answers before trying IVF. Whether you’re looking to pursue options outside of IVF, or you don’t have access to a fertility clinic due to barriers such as cost or location, Famlee works by testing 13 key hormone levels and then creating a customized fertility treatment plan fit just for you. With one-to-one telehealth appointments with licensed clinicians and prescription medications delivered directly to your door, Famlee is a non-invasive, affordable, and convenient alternative to IVF. 

To learn more, visit Famlee.com and use the code RESCRIPTED100 to get $100 off the Famlee Fertility All-In-One Solution, which includes at-home fertility testing, convenient telehealth appointments, and customized treatment plans. 

Lindsey Williams is a library worker and writer who lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Peaches. After 5 years of trying to conceive with dual-factor infertility, she is currently expecting her first child conceived with the help of IVF.