Surviving IVF - one patient’s advice

Angie has undergone IVF at The Lister Fertility Clinic and has kindly agreed to impart her knowledge and wisdom with others. Here's her story.

I am currently 32 years of age, have been married for nine years this year (2014) and I am very lucky to be a mummy to an amazing miracle ICSI baby boy, Tristan, who is only with us as a result of fertility treatment at The Lister Fertility Clinic.

Our background is that of mainly male infertility; however after unsuccessful IVF cycles we found out that not only did I have a low AMH, my eggs were also of poor quality. If that’s not enough, high uterine NK cells meant that if one of my eggs made it to an embryo with ICSI my body would attack and destroy it. We had four cycles with another clinic all of which ended with the dreaded single line BFN (Big Fat Negative). I was losing all hope, I had tried everything: bed rest, acupuncture, so many vitamins I rattled when I walked…..what else could I do?

Then I came to the Lister, after winning one of their generous and amazing birthday cycles, it was my Consultant, James Nicopoullos, who encouraged me to carry out the NK cells test provided at The Lister Fertility Clinic. As a result they found I had elevated NK cells and toxins and was treated with steroids. This cycle changed my life: for the first time ever I got a BFP (Big Fat Positive) and I now have my son. At the time people said to me “I bet it’s like winning the lottery;” my reply was always it’s so much more than that!

What advice would I give having gone through five IVF cycles?

Keeping healthy is so necessary; I can’t stress that enough. Vitamins and supplements will help - your consultant will discuss this with you.

Being relaxed and calm is also important but it is difficult to remain calm when so much rides on this treatment. You can try alternative therapies; I tried acupuncture, hypnotherapy and reflexology, all of which are great for keeping you relaxed but you need to find the right thing for you. In previous cycles I minimised outings and my husband wrapped me in cotton wool treating me like I was already pregnant, wouldn’t even allow me to pick up my nieces and nephews. But as you know, fertile couples aren’t careful during the 2ww (two week wait) as they aren’t aware, and carry on as normal. That’s what I decided to do with my cycle of IVF at the Lister: I went about my life as normal. Once the embryos were implanted we drove back to Birmingham and then we went out for a meal with friends and laughed so much with them it hurt my stomach. Then it was back to work and the wait began.

Finding an outlet for expressing myself has been vital, and social media sites such as Twitter are invaluable. I use Twitter regularly and have made some great new friends, all of whom understand what it is like to be infertile and to undergo fertility treatment; the rollercoaster of pain and happiness endured.

You can find The Lister Fertility Clinic on Twitter as @Listerfertility, or simply click on the Twitter link at the bottom of the page for a direct link.

How I’d advise you to cope with IVF and fertility treatment

When embarking on fertility treatment of any kind, after confiding in friends, I would personally say to go about your business as normal. Don’t change plans; go to the concerts, the shows and the meals out with friends and family, as long as they are safe. But please don’t go bungee jumping or anything like that: that would be crazy!

Reducing stress is essential but is also one of the hardest things to do when going through fertility treatment, so make plans and keep to them. Distract yourself by keeping busy doing something you enjoy. The treatment will always be on your mind but if you can find distractions even if only for a short while they will help keep you sane. Good luck!