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Surviving The Two Week Wait

The thrill and excitement of IVF may be one thing, but few people can prepare you for the agony of the unavoidable two week wait or 2 week wait, after which dreams are either fulfilled or dashed during this fraught fortnight.

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Two Week Wait

The thrill and excitement of IVF may be one thing, but few people can prepare you for the agony of the unavoidable two week wait or 2 week wait, after which dreams are either fulfilled or dashed during this fraught fortnight.

The run-up to the IVF process can often seem like an endless round of doctors’ appointments, clinic visits, injections, scans and blood tests. It’s a stressful and often hectic time for couples as they go through the processes of egg retrieval, fertilisation and then embryo transfer. But after this flurry of activity, the next stage of the journey becomes an agonising waiting game, known as the two week wait – the time between embryo transfer and finding out whether you are pregnant.

“There’s nothing you can do except wait,” says Claire Tudhope, an acupuncturist specialising in fertility, who is now 21 weeks pregnant with her first child, following her third IVF cycle. “It’s very difficult having to wait for news, especially nowadays, because we’re all used to being able to find out things instantly thanks to the internet. The normal two week wait is hard anyway, but during the IVF process it’s a particularly loaded time because this might be your only opportunity to have a child.”

Emotions will be running high throughout the torturous two week period, from anticipation and excitement to doubt and fear. Fretting about the outcome can often lead to sleep problems and irritability, while every ache and pain can result in a frenzied internet search for pregnancy signs. There’s no doubt about it, the TWW – as it’s known in internet forums – is an incredibly stressful time.

“This is why it is really important to get support,” says fertility expert Zita West. “You need to be able to share these feelings with a partner, a family member, a close friend or with someone else who is going through it. There are many useful forums available on the internet that are there to help you through this difficult time. Support for one another is extremely important in making sure that you are mentally and emotionally in the right space. Some women find transfer much easier than others, but for the majority it is a very worrying time. It’s not unusual to feel a bit isolated and insecure because, after all those tests and scans, suddenly there is nothing more to do.”

Two Week Wait Stress

“The two week wait can be a very stressful period for women undergoing IVF treatment because you have no control over the situation,” says Tracey Sainsbury, Senior Fertility Counsellor and Research Officer with The London Women’s Clinic. “It’s therefore important to acknowledge that feeling stressed is appropriate and to be expected. All the research shows that stress won’t affect the outcome of the treatment, but we do create so much internal conflict by being hard on ourselves. We need to be kinder to ourselves.”

Keep your hands – and mind – occupied

Time just seems to drag by during the dreaded two week wait, and it can be difficult not to obsess over the outcome. Keeping your hands and mind busy can help to distract you from the situation. “I used to do a lot of jigsaws,” says Claire Tudhope. “They really help you to switch off and it can be a little bit like a meditative process.” Taking up a creative pursuit like crafts, knitting, photography or cooking is also a great way to keep your mind occupied and can prove to be very relaxing.”

If there’s a recipe you’ve always wanted to try your hand at, now’s the time to give it a go. Or why not pay a visit to a craft shop and pick up a kit to make your own jewellery? You might surprise yourself with what you achieve.

“Taking up a creative pursuit like crafts, knitting, photography or cooking is also a great way to keep your mind occupied and can prove to be very relaxing.”

Enjoy a TV marathon

“When I was going through the two week wait I went out and bought myself a few box sets of TV shows I’d been meaning to watch but hadn’t got round to,” says Bella Hardiman, who is currently pregnant with her second child following a course of fertility treatment. “I needed some escapism to take my mind off what was happening and a Breaking Bad marathon really helped both me and my partner. It was lovely to curl up on the sofa together and just forget about our worries.”

Start a book club

If books are your preferred method of escapism, why not start a book club with a few friends? Decide on a book that you’re all interested in and then meet up at someone’s house or a café to discuss it. If you can’t manage to meet up, you could set up a Facebook group to share your views. It’s worth bearing in mind that you probably want to avoid any books where pregnancy is a central theme because you want to take your mind off your current situation.

“I needed some escapism to take my mind off? what was happening and a Breaking Bad marathon really helped both me and my partner. It was lovely to curl up on the sofa together and just forget about our worries.”

Look after yourself “There are different views as to whether one should rest after a transfer or not,” says Zita West. “Personally, I don’t think it does you any harm to rest after a transfer, especially for the first day or two. Make sure you eat well, drink plenty of water and keep your tummy warm. Enjoy a leisurely walk or do some gentle yoga after five days. Make your mind up now to put your energy into being positive no matter what. “I would suggest exploring relaxation techniques to ease and manage the anxiety.” Even something as simple as giving yourself a manicure and pedicure, or relaxing in a warm bubble bath with some candles, can really help you to feel pampered and nurtured.

Set yourself a Google time limit

While you are waiting for news, you will no doubt be monitoring your body each day for signs of early pregnancy or your period. It can be very tempting to Google every symptom. “There’s no point saying ‘don’t Google’ because it’s virtually impossible – everyone does it,” says Claire Tudhope.

Surviving The Two Week Wait The thrill and excitement of IVF may be one thing, but few people can prepare you for the…

Posted by Fertility Road Magazine on Thursday, 24 September 2015

“What I did was give myself a time limit of, say, 20 minutes and after that I would stop. Otherwise you can end up down a rabbit hole of internet forums and confusing stories that will make your head spin.” Allow yourself some time to investigate, but then make sure you go off and do something else, non-pregnancy-related.

Have a mini break

While some women prefer to keep themselves busy and occupied during the two week wait, others will relish the opportunity to take time out through a mini break. Sometimes just getting away from your usual routine and environment can really help to give a fresh perspective on a stressful situation.

Why not book some time off work and go away with your partner to a relaxing countryside location? “I’ve always thought that spending time in nature is very soothing and nurturing,” says Claire Tudhope. “Taking a gentle walk through the countryside can really lift your spirits and ease any stress.”

Try meditation and mindfulness

When you’re going through the interminable two week wait it’s so difficult to focus on the present moment, when all you can think about is the future and whether or not you will be pregnant.

Mindfulness encourages us to shift our thoughts away from the past or the future and focus instead on the present moment. It can be tricky to master, but here’s a technique that should help – sit or lie somewhere comfortable and begin scanning through each part of your body, paying attention to all the physical sensations you feel. Start with your toes and move up your legs to your stomach, chest, shoulders, neck and head, gently easing away any tension you notice. Finish by taking a few long, deep breaths. Each morning take five to 10 minutes to be quiet and meditate. Look out of the window, be aware of the stillness and enjoy the quietening of your mind.

And what if it’s not good news?

“I always say not to plan too far ahead,” says Tracey Sainsbury. “If you make a plan and the outcome isn’t what you had hoped then you can end up feeling like you have failed. Instead, acknowledge the fact that there isn’t anything else you could or should have done and be kind to yourself. Ensure you have a good support network around you and if you are having treatment at a clinic make sure that you access the support and advice that is available to you. Take time to nurture yourself before making any decisions on what to do next.”

“If you make a plan and the outcome isn’t what you had hoped then you can end up feeling like you have failed. Instead, acknowledge the fact that there isn’t anything else you could or should have done and be kind to yourself.”

Simple stress-busters If the stress of the two week wait is all getting a bit much, try these tips from the London Women’s Clinic to bring back a sense of calm…

Try a breathing technique

Dr Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique has been described as ‘a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system’. The easy-to-learn technique mimics some of the de-stressing elements of meditation and relaxes your body almost immediately. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Take control

Give yourself the space you need and deserve to regain control of your life. Spend some time, say an hour, thinking and being as proactive as you can in devising ways of dealing with what may be the cause of your stress. Search for the positive and focus on that. Try to see problems as challenges. Concentrate on the present. Remember, we have a choice over what may affect us. Even situations we do not like can be tolerated with a certain degree of calm.

Get a good night’s sleep

Instead of counting sheep, try to read a book or listen to music; write in your diary or make lists earlier in the evening. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol late in the evening; have a bath by candlelight with maybe a few drops of lavender oil; avoid a stuffy atmosphere – open a window – and have a warm milky drink or a herbal tea before bed.

Enjoy life

Try to enjoy life and not to get caught up in the whirlwind of stress. Try to be happy about the present and let the future simply unfold. Try to be positive and optimistic, calm and relaxed, saying to yourself that, whatever happens, you will still be okay. Use all your coping skills and be ready to deal with any challenges that are ahead as you journey through life.

“It was so fab to have an online support network”

Victoria Harrison, 42, has undergone several rounds of IVF after the first cycle resulted successfully in the birth of her son. Here she tells her experience of the two week wait.

“We were very fortunate that our first attempt worked but then we tried several times more after that: two proper full cycles and three frozen (although only two of these resulted in a transfer). During the two week wait period I was preoccupied by it all. I’d analyse every little sign.

In terms of coping strategies, my advice would be to just keep busy and try to follow your fertility specialist’s advice on what you should and shouldn’t do – for example, how much rest you need and/or whether you can go swimming. They are the experts. Equally though, it’s probably best not to blame yourself for anything you did if it doesn’t work.

My other coping strategy was to go online on a site called Fertility Friends, which has threads for people at exactly the same stage. You will find all the people having a transfer in, say, September and then you can stick together and swap notes and support each other. It was so fab to have this support network.

Going through IVF feels overwhelming and quite lonely at times. Lots of other couples go through it when you look at the statistics but the chance of someone else being in the same situation at the same time is tiny, so look for support online.

Finally, It can really be very hard on your relationship with each other so don’t be afraid to seek professional help via a fertility counsellor who specialises in all this – your clinic might well be able to suggest someone.”

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Mental Health

Here Are Some Tips To Break The Invisible Wall

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The Invisible Wall

“Most relationships fail because we spend too much time pointing out each other’s mistakes and not enough time enjoy each other’s company.” – Unknown

Struggles through infertility can tend to take over your life. The constant stress of the treatments and the repeated disappointments can definitely strain the relationship between partners. Women may feel more irritable & emotional and her partner may feel helpless and worried. This makes for a difficult combination for any conversation to occur! Slowly there is an invisible wall starting to appear between the couple, emotions take over and make it even more difficult to talk.

With infertility, making a baby isn’t sexy. It isn’t fun. It’s stressful. It’s hard. It’s hormonal. It’s just miserable. The process truly is a make or break on relationships. Women can especially feel volatile just like a volcano about to blast at anytime with no warning. One minute you are positive, the next negative, becoming miserable, seemingly out of the blue. It can become exhausting for the partner quickly. The invisible wall gets thicker and taller… Sound and feel familiar?

Infertility can be an awful journey if the partners are not truly supporting and caring for each other. I have heard so many stories where partners are separating temporarily or permanently due to the stress and struggles with infertility. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are some tips to break the invisible wall…

1. To the woman who is in the thick of infertility, pay some attention to your partner. Ask them how they are doing. One of my clients asked her husband that very question on Father’s Day, and he broke down. Men also feel it, they just feel it differently.

2. To the woman struggling through this process, allow your man to be vulnerable. As a man, vulnerability with your partner doesn’t make you weak, it makes you even stronger. I have seen many relationships become very successful amidst the pain and struggles, when there is vulnerability between the couple. It strengthens your bond and makes you closer.

3. To both partners, when emotions are running high, remove yourself from the situation, take some time to collect yourself. Don’t talk or act when emotions are running high. The invisible wall gets higher when emotions are high.

4. Remind yourself and your partner frequently that “Together, we will make it thru this too”. Saying it out loud makes a world of difference and gives a great comfort to the other partner.

5. Get professional help, specifically someone who truly been there and understands the infertility struggle. They can help with tools and techniques to slowly eliminate relationship struggles, help identify the relationship goals and help you move forward positively in your life with or without successful fertility treatments.

Don’t let the invisible wall keep growing stronger and taller. Find ways to break the wall down slowly. Infertility shouldn’t be the reason for a relationship to break! Take small steps forward.

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20 Things You Should Never Say To Someone Struggling With Infertility!

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“You may never know what someone is going through, but if you notice any signs of pain—hostility, negativity, or over-sensitivity—then odds are, you know how they feel. Respond to the pain instead of judging the signs.” Lori Deschene

I have unexplained infertility and my fertility journey was very long and painful with almost 8 years of failed treatments. I had 3 miscarriages, 3 IUI failures and 8 back to back IVF failures. It was an emotional roller coaster. I struggled in silence for the major part of my journey. I avoided talking to people with the fear that they will ask me about having kids. I avoided going to India (where all my family is) for 4 years in a row giving all sorts of bullshit (pardon my language here) reasons on why I can’t go. I wore a mask at work and never talked about anything personal. Talking to friends and family members was a nightmare especially who recently became pregnant or had a child!

I always avoid telling others about my infertility journey to avoid the comments that can really sting, let my blood pressure rise and bite my tongue, to put it mildly. There are sometimes where I wanted to react in a more animated fashion to those somewhat insensitive and ignorant comments.

This doesn’t just happen to me. It happens to many of us who are struggling with pregnancy loss, primary or secondary infertility. I recently put a question (What is that one thing that people say annoys you most about infertility?) to an online FB support group and its members had overwhelming response talking about their personal experience with these insensitive comments.

This list is based on my personal experiences and the collective experiences from many amazing souls going through fertility challenges including my wonderful fertility clients.

I am writing this to create awareness to those people who haven’t experienced infertility, who typically say things like this (many times with good intentions) to others going through infertility.

Here are 20 things NOT to ask/say people going through infertility:

  1. When are you going to have a baby? You are running out of time.
  2. Just relax, it will happen
  3. Drink a glass of Wine, it will happen
  4. Go on vacation, it will happen
  5. Stop trying, it will happen
  6. Lose weight
  7. You are young, you have plenty of time
  8. Do this, try this, it worked for, it will happen (Varies all the way from eating McDonald’s fries to using essential oils)
  9. For people with secondary infertility or have experienced losses before- You at least know you can get pregnant
  10. I know a bunch of ladies who’ve had babies in their 40’s! Don’t worry, it will happen
  11. To people with secondary infertility- At least you’ve got one, you’re so lucky, you might just have to be happy with one
  12. You are lucky you don’t have kids yet! (or) It’s so hard having so many kids
  13. You can have one of mine
  14. My husband looks at me and I get pregnant (or) I sneeze near my husband and I get pregnant
  15. Comments by a younger couple – We tried for a really long time( 2-3 months) to get pregnant, I understand your frustration
  16. Don’t worry, the technology is so good these days!
  17. Have you thought about adopting? it will kick-start your hormones and you’ll get pregnant. It happened to my (insert random relative)
  18. If God thought you were ready, you’d be pregnant.
  19. Maybe it’s just not meant to be (or) whatever is going to happen will happen.
  20. It’s not just the words, it’s the body language too- When people ask if I have children and I say, I do not, their reply almost always is, you never wanted kids?! With a surprised look on their face.

Even today at my nail salon, my manicurist asked me, how many kids, I said one(adopted). How old, 5 years. The next question immediately, you don’t want to have more???? You should have more..

This article is not intended to judge or blame those folks who say these comments. Many of you say these things out of good heart and well intentions. You all want to support and care for your loved one dearly.

Just keep in mind, these words can and will create a deeper wound to people going through fertility struggles. Because many of us are desperately seeking and doing whatever it takes to get and stay pregnant and yet it’s just not happening.

Unless you have experienced infertility, it’s hard to understand and relate to the pains and struggles all around. Infertility affects ones overall being- physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Here is one suggestion I will offer to people who are supporting a friend or a loved one.

Tell them, I may not truly understand what you are going through, but remember, I am here for you. And give them a big hug. Sometimes that’s all we need to feel better even a teeny tiny bit!

“Sometimes, what a person needs is not a brilliant mind that speaks, but a patient heart that listens.” Anonymous

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Fertility Treatment Survival Skills

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Fertility Treatment Survival Skills

Practical and Emotional Top Tips from Iris Fertility Sherpa Natasha Canfer, Clients and Colleagues.

As the founder of Iris Fertility – an organisation offering bespoke practical and emotional support and companionship to individuals before, during and after fertility treatment – I am regularly asked what people can do to help manage the challenges that fertility treatment throws at them. Together with Iris Fertility clients and colleagues, I’ve put together our top tips, insights and nuggets of information.

  1. Put Yourself First Throughout the Process

Go gently, treat yourself kindly and say ‘no’ to people who are going to sap your emotional energy especially when treatment’s underway or you’re in the 2 Week Wait (2WW) – finding interest in or compassion for anyone else while you’re in the throes of fertility treatment can be challenging. Put activities on hold that you’re not interested in or can’t face. If you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something with someone then probably best to avoid! Be aware that how you feel day to day (and even within the day) is likely to change.

Don’t put off taking that first step – that might be going to your GP or going directly to a clinic for a Fertility MOT.

Don’t do too much of your own research – it can be mind boggling, confusing and cause anxiety.

Seeking the support of an individual or organisation (like Iris Fertility) who knows the process really helped us with having a sounding board away from the clinic environment. We could ask the questions we didn’t necessarily want to ask our clinic and raise concerns we weren’t able to share with friends and family. Don’t leave a niggle or a doubt unsaid.’ Loretta, Somerset

2. Trust Your Gut Feeling

Follow your instincts. Those instincts or your gut feeling might not appear to be logical but if something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t for you – even if you can’t pinpoint the reason.

3. Inform Yourself

Depending on your circumstances, appointments at fertility clinics can feel overwhelming. You might be presented with a lot of information and it can be difficult to take in exactly what’s being said and what that means for you – particularly if you’ve just received tests results that aren’t as you’d hoped. Also, a clinic may only give you information that’s specific to the services it offers rather than providing you with an overview of what might be available to you nationally and globally.

‘Don’t be afraid to ask questions – the doctors aren’t gods and they need to be challenged sometimes so that you know they’re doing the best for you as an individual.

Talk to people who have also been through this and don’t bottle things up especially through the 2 Week Wait.

Don’t be scared by the process. Embrace it but be careful as it can become addictive – trust your instincts when it comes to knowing whether you’re ready to say “enough is enough”.’ George, Ireland

Other sources to look into if you feel able are:

Progress Educational Trust (PET) – a UK-based charity which advances public understanding of science, law and ethics in the fields of human genetics, assisted reproduction, embryology and stem cell research: Progress Educational Trust

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority – the UK’s independent regulator of fertility treatment and research using human embryos. An expert organisation in the fertility sector and the first statutory body of its type in the world: www.hfea.gov.uk

‘Question, question, question your clinic about all the costs involved and its refund policy.

Ask your clinic about risks of failed fertilisation and unsuccessful thawing of frozen eggs and embryos.

If you opt to use a clinic abroad, check whether you can use a clinic of your choice in the UK alongside that overseas clinic or are you tied to one of their associated clinics?

If you go abroad, factor in how easy it is to arrange scans, blood tests, medication, intralipids, etc. Also work out whether you will easily be able to get flights and accommodation at short notice.

Is the clinic open at weekends and able to work around you?’ Sarah, West Yorkshire

4. Remind Yourself that it’s OK to be in a Different Emotional Place from Your Partner

Depending on your circumstances, it’s possible that you and your partner may want to choose different treatment options or you may find yourselves in a different emotional place from one another. That’s OK and totally understandable. Open and honest ongoing respectful communication with each other is important – and can also be exceptionally tricky especially when emotions and hormones are running high. If you feel that counselling would be beneficial then speak with your clinic about what they can offer you and when. Otherwise, you could locate a specialist infertility counsellor through BICA

Take the time you need.

Talk to your friends. If they are real friends they will want to lend an ear.

It’s OK to recalibrate your understanding of who you are if that’s necessary.’ James, Hertfordshire

5. It’s All About You: ‘Fertility Treatment’ is an Umbrella Term

Ensure that your clinic tailors all your treatment and medication to you and your needs.

6. Who’s Who? Clinic Staff

Make a friend among the clinic staff and ask them for their work contact details. It’s beneficial to have an ally or two on the ‘inside’.

If there’s a staff member who you have strong negative feelings towards for whatever reason and you would prefer them not to be involved in your care then let your clinic know. Most clinic staff work as part of a team and will try and accommodate patient requests of this nature.

I would’ve liked to have treated myself almost as if I was recovering from an illness – very gently. So do what makes you happy or at least calm. Go to places that make your heart sing and your fear retreat. See only those people who make you feel positive and with whom you can be completely yourself.’ Caitlin Allen Acupuncture, West Yorkshire

7. Statistics and Other Numbers are Only Part of the Picture

Perhaps easier said than done but try not to get too hung up on statistics and numbers. No one can say for definite how things are going to work out for you. Ultimately you need one egg, one sperm and one womb to get along with each other. If you’re comparing clinics then make sure you’re comparing like for like statistics. The figure you’ll probably be most interested in is the live birth rate for the female age group relevant to your situation.

8. Check Out Donor Conception Network

If you’re considering using donated eggs, sperm or embryos then check out Donor Conception Network (DCN) as soon as you can but preferably before you even start any treatment or become pregnant. Donor Conception Network is a charity and supportive network of more than 2,000 mainly UK-based families with children conceived with donated sperm, eggs or embryos; those considering or undergoing donor conception procedures; and donor conceived people. Staff, volunteers and network members have a wealth of knowledge, information and expertise about all things past and present in the world of donation including the possible impact of telling or not telling donor-conceived children about their genetic heritage: www.dcnetwork.org

‘If you wish to find the best possible fit with a surrogate mum, then Surrogacy UK is a great association to join. With their ‘friendship first’ ethos, get togethers are organised so that friendships can be formed before Teams are created.

Speaking as a two-time surrogate mother, I felt that finding the couple to team-up with was all about friendship chemistry. Being open, honest and approachable is a good way to connect with a potential surrogate. It may feel scary at first and you may feel exposed and vulnerable, but it works both ways. Imagine a year down the line when your surrogate/friend is about to birth your baby, she will be trusting you to hold that space for her, as the baby is delivered at long last in your arms.’ Jay Kelly, Surrogate, Baby Alchemy

9. Going Abroad – Is the Grass as Green as You Think?

If you’re thinking about going abroad for treatment, investigate what the implications of doing so could be for you and any future children. Here are just a handful of things to consider:

  • If your UK clinic is encouraging you to go to a particular overseas clinic then is it affiliated in some way to that clinic? If so, how and what does that mean for you and those clinics?
  • How is the overseas clinic regulated?
  • What’s the legal situation regarding types of fertility treatment in the country (or state) of your choosing?
  • Which screening tests are performed on patients and partners?
  • How much is it going to cost you financially, physically and emotionally especially by the time you’ve factored in flights and accommodation?
  • If you’re using a donor abroad then how are they screened and selected?
  • What are the anonymity rules in relation to donors and how would this impact on any child(ren) born from treatment?
  • How many families can a donor donate to and what could this mean in terms of the number of half siblings for your potential child?

10. DIY Donor Sperm – Future Proof Yourself

If you’re using donor sperm outside of a clinic environment then before you even start preparing for pregnancy ensure that your personal safety is paramount. Also, get legal advice regarding your specific situation and make sure you have legal agreements in place in relation to your particular circumstances.

11. Remember the Adult Child

While your focus may initially be on you becoming pregnant, your goal is to have a baby. That baby will hopefully grow to become an adult so when making decisions around the types of treatment you are willing to undertake, consider how your future (adult) child at different life stages could feel about any decisions you make and the impact of your choices on them.

12. Include Your Partner

It might feel that the spotlight is on the individual physically undergoing the fertility treatment so actively include (and encourage your clinic to include) your partner if you have one.

13. Changing Times

The nature of fertility treatment changes all the time so if it’s been taking you a while to get that baby into your arms you might begin to wonder if a particular treatment had been available to you earlier then whether life would have worked out differently. Be kind to yourself and remember that on your quest to become a parent you can only make your best decision with all the information you have available to you at the time the decision needs to be made.

14. Escape!

Develop a new hobby or skill in which you can immerse yourself and that can be done at any time regardless of the stage of treatment you’re at. Current favourites to distract clients are escape rooms, singing and learning a new language.

15. Funding

If you’re eligible to receive NHS funding but you’re not sure you want to have treatment in your allocated NHS fertility clinic then you could investigate the possibility of transferring your funding for use in a private fertility clinic.
If you’re not eligible to receive NHS funding or it’s not available in your area then speak to your clinic about any payment plans it might offer. You could also look into specialist fertility funding organisations which provide IVF refund schemes and multi-cycle programmes.

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