Big Fat IVF Survey – The Results

IVF survey results

Firstly, let me say I’m sorry. It’s taken me an age to write this up and gather all the answers you kind folk took the time to share. Mostly because yes, we finally had a positive and that positive has been taking up my hours and seconds ever since she got here! But more on that later. For now let me get around to telling you the long overdue outcome of this survey.

So where to start? Well, there were near on 100 responses so a great amount to go on. Interestingly almost all of the reasons for IVF being undertaken were down to unknown issues or a sperm issue. So if you’re having problems in the baby department and thinking of IVF be sure to get your other halves tested at the start of your journey.

Something stranger still is that the results seem to suggest that if you don’t get a positive on your first round you are more likely to get a positive on your third or fourth rather than your second. The only thing I can think of as a reason for this is that second rounds are often from leftovers that have been frozen so maybe they are the lesser quality of each bunch (?). But it feeds right into what I so often say, that this is a marathon not a sprint.

NHS Vs Private

We first went to ARGC after being refused by the NHS

I am sorry to say that your chances seem better with private clinics rather than the NHS. Although there were a handful of good outcomes from NHS rounds, most positives came out of private clinics. However, factored into this has to be the fact that often the NHS only offer 2 rounds and thereafter people carry on through private clinics to find success. I fear the numbers game may be at play here again. I guess the moral is, if you have 2 x rounds at an NHS clinic try, if you can to get yourself a couple more tries at a private as it’s probably worth it.

Fresh Vs Frozen

Although many doctors say that frozen are just as good as fresh embryos (and I’m pretty sure I agree), almost all of the positives recorded on the survey came from fresh embryos. I think however, that this is probably because the best embryos are always chosen to go in first with the rest frozen. So if you have a number of embryos that are the same quality/stage then there’s probably little in it but if you’re pinning hopes on frozen embryos after you’ve already had the best of the group first time round maybe don’t get too set on the idea that you have a definite home run on ice.

Immune Testing

Oh the wonderfully controversial, immune testing. I personally am totally against this – I have read so many papers on it that suggest the science is totally flawed however I know that some of you really feel that this made all the difference.

About 40% of our survey had the immune testing and of that less than a third were told they needed any treatment going forward. So the long and the short of it is that the numbers we have show immune testing to be neither here nor there with some people thinking the immunes were the reason they got a positive, then returning only for the immune treatment not to work a second or a third time around. If you want my personal opinion, I think it’s a lot of money and the treatments are quite intense for minimal scientifically proven positive results. Even with 5 rounds under my belt I never went down this route and we got a positive in the end.

Other extras

Chinese herbs = don’t bother.

Very few extras played a part in the positive pregnancy tests. Almost everyone had acupuncture. The thought is that it helps you to relax and also ups your blood flow for a nice fat womb lining. Other than that, there was a smattering of vitamins taken and high protein diets whilst eggs were maturing but that was it on the body front.

Once the embryos were out, the Embryoscope was popular and I think if you have a lot of eggs fertilised this certainly make sense. This is an option that not all clinics have. A time-lapse film is taken of the embryos without having to disturb them so you get a much better idea of which are developing at an even pace. Too fast or in fits and spurts can mean there is an issue and this would be missed if the embryos were only checked once a day or so which is the norm. This is an additional way to ensure you put back the strongest option.

Egg Count

Providing one or more eggs were fertilised the number of eggs retrieved really didn’t make too much difference when it came to positive outcomes on the survey. As we’re constantly told – it only takes one.. and that’s totally right. People with high egg counts that were able to freeze many embryos also didn’t have a higher chance of getting pregnant a second or third time with their frozen embryos. So don’t let a low count get you down – there’s just as much hope in your little eggie-pegs as anyone else’s!

When to put them back

50% of those who had a positive outcome had their eggs put back in once they were at a blastocyst stage which is 5 days +. I feel this just confirms that the one going back is a really ‘good egg’ (excuse the pun) rather than it having any baring on whether the egg will actually make it or not. If it’s going to get to blasto in you it will get to blasto. Personally I feel it’s better to have this knowledge beforehand rather than put something in and go through a ten day wait and test when you could have known it would’nt go the distance beforehand.

The 10 day wait

All pretty much the same here. Everyone who had a positive was lightly active during their wait time.

To shove it up the bum or not to shove it up the bum…

90% of the positive outcomes took progesterone pessaries during the 10 day wait with just a couple adding injections as well. So wether it’s lady-like or not… you’re gunna wanna do it.

Special Mentions

Special notes were added that included vitamins for men who had low sperm count, Folic acid and Q10 supplements for improved egg quality and the chucking of chemical beauty products for at least 3 months before in favour of al au natural options.

It was a general consensus that although there is very little you can do to control the outcome of IVF in real terms the key to success is reduced stress and an emphasis on the best eggs you can possibly make. So healthy life choices in the lead up is a great addition to all of the above.

I hope all this is a help to everyone. I’m going to do a post on my personal positive and my own thoughts on the whole matter shortly, but the voice of the masses is so much more relevant so thank you to everyone that took the time to forward on the survey and or fill it in themselves.

Even when you’re out the other side of IVF it keeps it’s special, if at times painful, place in your heart. It’s one of those clubs that no one wants to be part of but once you are, there is such camaraderie and support when you look for it- it reminds me how happy I am to be a woman.

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