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How to Prepare for IVF – Mentally and Physically

Every year, more couples are turning to assisted reproductive technologies to grow their families. The decision to go forward with IVF treatment is not one to make lightly. You might find that the whole process takes a higher emotional, as well as physical, toll than you’d expect. Fortunately, you don’t have to go into it blindly. There are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for IVF treatment. 

Fertility testing as a first step 

Whether you are coming to IVF because of an infertility diagnosis or you are a single parent or same-sex couple wishing to grow your family, you should consult with a fertility specialist before committing to IVF. Not only will they provide essential support on your fertility journey, but they will begin with a series of fertility tests to determine if IVF is right for you. Assessing your overall reproductive health will allow your fertility specialist to create a personalize treatment protocol. There are many causes of infertility that you may not have been aware of, such as PCOS, blocked fallopian tubes, or male factor infertility. Identifying any underlying issues will greatly enhance your chances of getting pregnant, and there may even be solutions that don’t require you to go through IVF.

Every IVF journey is unique 

Everyone undergoing IVF came to it for different reasons and will have very different experiences. The important thing to remember is that whatever your struggles may be, you are not alone. Infertility may not always be a primary reason for undergoing IVF, but the fact remains that it is a leading cause driving the uptick in use of assisted reproductive technology. Infertility affects one in every eight couples in the United States. It’s a medical issue, and not representative of any kind of failing on your part. In moments of doubt, it’s helpful to reach out to other prospective parents who are going through fertility journeys of their own.

Preparing yourself mentally 

IVF can be a lot to handle. You may feel the need to fortify yourself before starting the process. There are plenty of ways you can do this. In fact, the more you do to prepare yourself mentally, the more equipped you will be to handle the inevitable ups and downs of your fertility journey. Anything that reduces your stress levels can only help improve your chances of a successful IVF cycle. 

Start with the facts 

IVF is an intensive fertility treatment. Knowing what to expect at every step will help you become more comfortable with the process. In broad strokes, IVF happens in the following five steps: 

  1. Pre-cycle fertility testing for women 
  1. Stimulation of the ovaries to produce eggs during one menstrual cycle 
  1. Retrieval of the eggs from each ovary 
  1. Fertilization of the eggs in a laboratory by either conventional fertilization or ICSI 
  1. Embryo implantation into the uterus 

Your fertility specialist will walk you through the treatment protocol before you commit to anything. Depending on your age, and whether you’ve experienced previous implantation failure, they may also recommend an endometrial receptivity test to pinpoint your exact window of implantation, further increasing your chances of getting pregnant. 

(For more detailed information on IVF treatment, check out our Guide to the IVF process

Understanding the financial cost 

IVF can be quite costly as it involves multiple outpatient procedures and drug regimens, not to mention the lab time required while your embryos mature. Asking your fertility specialist for an itemized quote of all expected costs will help you decide how many IVF cycles are within your budget. 

The good news is that many health insurance providers have started extending parental benefits to cover some, or all of the costs of the treatment. As you make your financial plan, be sure to consult your coverage. 

Further, some states will subsidize some of the costs of fertility treatment, so it is important to check what resources are available where you live. 

Caring for your relationship when you have a partner 

The IVF experience can feel overwhelming, and there will be days when it might seem like it’s taken over your whole life. One partner, by necessity, has to take on the brunt of the physical aspect of the process, sometimes leading to tension and resentment in the relationship

Clear and open communication is key to resolving any negative emotions between partners. Making space in your day-to-day to touch base and share how you’re feeling can go a long way toward  making sure you both feel supported. Additionally, you may consider attending a few sessions of couples counseling to ensure you and your partner are on the same page, and to develop specific strategies to support each other through this process – both before and during. 

Turn to your support network 

Having people you can turn to, outside your relationship with your partner, will do wonders to dispel any feelings of isolation you might have. Whether your support network consists of friends, family, or strangers on the internet going through a similar experience, being able to confide in others will help relieve the stress. However many people you choose to involve in your fertility journey, the important thing is that you feel supported and cared for. 

Working through IVF 

Work is stressful enough without having to juggle various medical appointments, while the physical toll of IVF may have you performing at less than your usual peak efficiency. Everyone, not just those undergoing IVF, has times in their career where they are top performers and times when they are not. There is no shame in asking for help. If you don’t feel comfortable disclosing your fertility treatment to your manager or supervisor, consider adding one or two work friends to your support network. Having people at work who know what’s going on with you can go a long way on those days when you are struggling. 

Social gatherings 

Family gatherings like Christmas and Thanksgiving can be tricky to navigate at the best of times. You may find yourself dreading seeing those well-meaning relatives who’ll want to know when you plan on finally having a baby. It’s important to remember that your fertility journey is your own. Locking in your story, and talking with your partner ahead of time about what to say to those relatives, will help you feel more prepared to face them. 

Likewise, you may find it too painful to attend baby showers and first birthdays. There’s nothing wrong with that. Send a gift, along with your regrets, and call it a day. What’s important is that you take care of yourself. 


The importance of a solid self-care routine cannot be emphasized enough. Going through IVF can be hard, and there is no way to predict with certainty how many cycles you will need. Making sure you take time to do the things that bring you joy or help you relax will help build the resiliency to handle the challenges that IVF throws your way. 

You may experience a lot of emotional ups and down. Excitement, frustration, sadness, anger, and confusion are common feelings during this process. Consider practicing gratitude or journaling as you move through this journey. Creating the space in your life to sit with those feelings and process them will help keep you grounded, no matter what your fertility journey looks like. 

Complementary health resources 

Things like yoga and meditation can be a great help in managing your stress levels. Apps like Circle+Bloom, Headspace, Mindful IVF, and Insight Timer provide both general guided meditations and meditation specifically tailored to those going through IVF. Carving out just ten minutes in your day to practice mindfulness can do wonders for your stress levels. 

Lifestyle changes to support IVF 

The physical aspect of IVF is very hard on the body. Particularly, the drug regimen required comes with its fair share of side effects. Focusing on improving and maintaining your overall health will help you manage any side effects. When preparing for fertility treatments, doctors recommend the following lifestyle choices: 

  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and using recreational drugs. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.  
  • Try to get 30 minutes of light exercise each day. 
  • Limit caffeine consumption.  
  • Reduce your stress as much as possible. 

Undergoing IVF can feel unpredictable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for any challenges that may arise. You have so many options for fertility support – both from healthcare providers and things you can do on your own. Being proactive about how you prepare for IVF can go a long way towards making it a positive experience for you and your family.