A fertility journey is full of unknowns, but there are certain things that you can have contingency plans for. For instance, traveling. While going on vacation or jet-setting around the world may be the last thing on your mind during IVF, sometimes last-minute travel plans can't be avoided. Planning ahead will help you feel more equipped to handle last-minute trips, unexpected events, or maybe even a spur-of-the-moment getaway with your partner.
Can You Travel During IVF?
Unfortunately, the answer to whether or not it's okay to travel during fertility treatments is not a simple one. While it's possible to travel during an IVF cycle, there are some important factors you'll want to consider.
First and foremost, it's absolutely critical to talk to your doctor before making any travel plans. Depending on the phase of your treatment cycle, your doctor may advise against traveling or recommend specific precautions to take while traveling.
Another thing to consider is your trip’s destination. For example, your doctor may offer insight if you plan on traveling to a remote or exotic location with limited access to medical care or higher risks for those trying to conceive or pregnant. Visit the CDC website so you're aware of any relevant travel alerts.
It’s also important to think about how you'll transport your medication and any necessary medical supplies while traveling. The key is to ensure your medication stays at the right temperature — especially those that need to be refrigerated — and is not damaged during travel.
Traveling Before Egg Retrieval
In general, it's not a good idea to travel during that 10-to-12-day period before your IVF egg retrieval, as this is when you will be taking medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This medication protocol requires close monitoring by your doctor, with frequent ultrasounds and blood tests to track the development of your follicles and adjust your medication dosage(s) if necessary, so your doctor will likely advise that you remain local.
If you do travel during this period, it may be difficult to access the necessary monitoring or receive immediate medical attention if you need it. Additionally, traveling during "stims" can be stressful (even if you're traveling to de-stress!), and it's always a good idea to avoid stress while undergoing IVF.
Be sure to discuss any travel plans with your doctor as soon as they arise and follow their guidance regarding when it is safe to travel during your IVF treatment cycle.
Traveling After Egg Retrieval
While there's no concrete rule on whether or not it's safe to travel after an egg retrieval, it's something to consider before you book those plane tickets or plan out that road trip.
On the one hand, you might feel like a real trooper after the egg retrieval procedure, ready to take on the world. On the other hand, you may be feeling bloated, crampy, and just generally meh. Plus, you might be taking some heavy-duty meds that may make you feel like you're walking around in a fog (which is, unfortunately, not the same as walking on clouds). Your hormone levels just might not be up for the adventure.
So, if you're considering traveling after your egg retrieval, it's important to talk to your doctor first and get their expert opinion.
If you decide to travel, pack some comfortable clothes, stay hydrated, and take it easy. And if anyone gives you a hard time about not wanting to go bungee jumping or climb Mount Everest, just tell them you're saving your energy for the real adventure — parenthood.
Traveling After Embryo Transfer
A million superstitions, myths, and misconceptions exist about things you can do to make your embryos "stick" more easily. Try not to concern yourself too much with these when deciding whether to travel after an embryo transfer. The good news is that you can probably travel after your transfer — with some crucial caveats, of course.
First, it's important to listen to your body and take it easy. You've just undergone a delicate medical procedure, and your freshly-planted embryo(s) need some TLC to nestle in for the long haul. That means avoiding extreme activities or situations that could cause undue stress or jostling. Plus, you'll want to talk to your doctor about any travel plans you have in mind. Your doctor may recommend holding off for a few days or may suggest precautions to take while you're on the road.
How to Travel with Fertility Medications
Already got your trip booked? It can feel intimidating to keep track of all of your medications (including the timing of those medications) while traveling. Some planning and creativity can help ensure your meds stay safe and sound on the go.
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Make a list of all of the medications you must bring while traveling during an IVF cycle, including dosages and instructions.
Keep everything stored properly. Invest in a good travel case or container to store your medications. You want something sturdy and compact to keep your meds at the right temperature. If you feel creative, you can decorate your case with fun stickers or colorful tape.
Keep it organized — easy access is key. When it comes to packing, prioritize your medications and make sure to keep them close. You don't want to dig through a pile of clothes to find your trigger shot at midnight in a hotel room. Put them in your carry-on bag, in the rare case that your checked luggage doesn't make it to its destination. And don't forget to pack some extra supplies, just in case!
Finally, check with your airline and destination country's regulations on traveling with medications. Let the TSA know ahead of time at the airport that you're carrying precious cargo in your bag and that you'd prefer your medications not to go through the X-ray machine. Also, some countries may require a prescription or doctor's note, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Traveling during IVF can be challenging, but with the right mindset and preparation, as well as your doctor's blessing, you can make it work. No matter what point you're at in your IVF cycle, if you're traveling, remember to prioritize your health, listen to your body, and don't be afraid to ask for help or advice. The good news is: there is currently no evidence that travel impacts IVF pregnancy rates.
Most importantly, remember to enjoy the journey. IVF can be a difficult process, so you deserve to have fun and make some amazing memories along the way.
Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a freelance writer, infertility and women’s rights advocate, former stand-up comic, author of the blog, “The 2 Week Wait,” and proud IVF Mom. Her articles have been featured in Time magazine, Huffington Post, and ScaryMommy. She has been interviewed on news outlets such as CNN, NPR, and BBC, where she has demonstrated her ability to make even reproductive issues fun and educational. You can follow her "infertility humor" on Instagram at @jennjaypal.