Associate Professor, OBGYN
Harvard Medical School
Assistant Division Director
Walter Reed Medical Center
Let’s address what it means to go through fertility treatment and touch upon some of the stages. As you’ll see, there are about 3 - 5 treatment approaches and they’re pretty different.
As you can see below, what they all have in common is most are expensive, almost never work the first time & can wreak serious havoc on someone’s work and travel schedule.
Before intensive fertility treatments start, many couples try to conceive naturally or with fertility medications for up to a year
This means they need to be in the same place as their partner during a 4 to 6 day window each month to give them the best chances. This can place pressure on work or personal travel schedules.
Next, many try intrauterine insemination, or IUI. Here a woman may take a few days of medication and go to a few appointments in the run-up to a non-surgical procedure.
The timing of the procedure is sensitive. It can’t be moved and it’s really hard to accurately predict more than 36 hours ahead of when it will actually happen. Deadlines and travel in the lead up to an IUI can put the cycle in jeopardy.
Next, is In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF. IVF is just daunting. For 2 weeks, women will give themselves painful injections at the same time each night and go see the doctor the next morning.
Towards the end of those two weeks, there’s a painful surgery to remove her eggs. The timing of the surgery is totally non-negotiable, and it’s really hard to predict.
What’s more, a woman will likely need a day or two to recover and then need to come back to the doctor for another procedure.
Lastly, some patients will do IVF and enlist the help of an egg donor, a sperm donor or a gestational carrier or surrogate.
This is called “Third Party Reproduction.” It can be essential for many people to have a child, and it’s an exhausting process.
At the drop of a hat, people may need to interview an egg donor or surrogate, wire them money or hop on the phone, or even a plane, to handle a crisis, like when an egg donor or surrogate decides she’s no longer able to help or a doctors’ visit doesn’t go as planned.