In Vitro Fertilization or IVF is an effective assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to help people who need help achieving pregnancy. Unlike normal pregnancy, where fertilization occurs inside the woman’s body, here fertilization occurs outside the human body. This treatment involves fertilizing mature eggs from ovaries with sperm in a lab. Later the fertilized egg is transferred to the uterus. And pregnancy occurs when the egg or the embryo implants itself into the uterus lining. IVF is an expensive procedure, so people often do it when they’ve tried everything else. People who want to get pregnant without a partner or same-sex couples also choose IVF.
In this article, I set out to discuss what IVF stimulation is, the steps involved, ways to sleep during IVF stimulation, and some suggestions to ensure good sleep.
What Is IVF Stimulation?
The initial phase of the IVF procedure is called IVF stimulation. It comprises various steps.
- Ovarian Stimulation: It is the first step in IVF stimulation. It involves the injection of medications for a week or two to harvest as many eggs as possible from the ovaries to maximize the chances of fertilization.
- Suppression Of Natural Menstruation: Medicines and injections are given to the woman during the first 2 weeks of the treatment to suppress the regular menstrual cycle with proper administration and guidance.
- Production Of Eggs: To generate more eggs simultaneously, hormonal medications like follicle-stimulating hormones, or FSH, and luteinizing hormones, or LSH are given. We will monitor the patient for the next few weeks after taking these medications. We’ll do ultrasounds to see when the eggs are ready.
- Maturation Of Eggs: This stage is oocyte maturation. Human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG is given to make the maturation of the eggs. After the eggs mature, they move on to the next phase, which is egg retrieval. Standard retrieval is 34-36 hours after hCG intake.
Later Phase Of IVF Treatment
- Embryo Retrieval: Eggs from the follicles have to be removed surgically before the eggs ovulate. Usually, it takes less than thirty minutes to perform this procedure. The eggs retrieved are then transferred into a test tube.
- Fertilization: Experts after the retrieval examine the eggs for maturity. Within the next few hours, the matured egg undergoes fertilization with the sperm in an incubator.
- Embryo Transfer: The embryo transfer happens between 3-5 days after fertilization.
- Pregnancy: After two weeks of embryo transfer, you get a pregnancy test. If confirmed, ultrasounds and blood tests are done.
Importance Of Sleep In Fertility And How To Sleep During IVF Stimulation
Research published by the National Library of Medicine on Sleep Medicine Review found that sleep difficulties and sleep disturbances are recognized to be determinants of women’s health and infertility. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can cause a reduction in reproductive hormones and uterine receptivity which are essential in attaining fertility. Poor sleep can also affect mental health.
Undergoing IVF stimulation procedures can cause physical discomfort and sometimes pain. As a result of hormonal medication intake, some women undergoing these procedures also experienced mental and emotional stress. Ensuring quality sleep during the treatment enhances your odds of success. Even though studies support the fact that sleep helps in IVF outcomes and fertility, it also suggests that excessive sleep can reverse the effects. Therefore, it is mandatory to understand how long and how to sleep during the treatment.
Doctors Recommendation During IVF Stimulation
Doctors recommend a moderate sleep of about 7-8 to patients undergoing IVF treatments. During the initial treatment sleeping in any position may be fine. But sleeping on the sides is more recommended by experts. Most doctors advise sleeping on the left side during this phase as it can also reduce the pressure on the vena cava and increase blood circulation. Sleeping on the left side is also beneficial for the functioning of the kidney which can lessen the swelling in hands and feet. The same is advisable for pregnant ladies too. Keeping a pillow between the legs while sleeping on the sides can reduce the discomfort in the abdomen and the lower body. However, during the initial IVF treatments, it is more important to get proper sleep for ruling out the risks of infertility than to sleep in any particular position.
No matter what trimester you are in after confirming your pregnancy, it is most comfortable to sleep on your side. While sleeping on your back is safe in the first trimester this can cause pain. Thus, sleeping on the sides is recommended. The IVF experts suggest using a pregnancy pillow that is in U or C shape and a firm mattress to lower the discomfort in second trimesters. Pregnant women, however, may not feel as comfortable using pregnancy pillows as they did during their second trimester. In this case, we can switch the pregnancy pillows with wedge cushions.
How To Ensure A Good Sleep?
Women often find it difficult to sleep during IVF treatments as the body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes. However, we can follow a few methods in getting better sleep. Firstly, we have to make sleep a priority as it is crucial in having a healthy baby. Next, plan things out in a way that can assure you a sleep of 7-8 hours a day. While some people can fall asleep anywhere, many struggle to even sleep on their regulars.
Therefore, it is recommended to find a good sleep environment. It’s better to sleep in a dark and quiet place with optimal room temperature. Scheduling a regular bedtime routine can ensure better quality sleep. A few things to add to the list are avoiding bright screens before bed and caffeine late in the day and incorporating relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. If you are still struggling with sleep it is important to speak with your doctor.
To summarize, IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is a treatment where fertilization takes place in a laboratory. It comprises a series of complex procedures and is performed to assist people in the conception of a child. Women receiving the treatment undergo a series of emotional and physical distress. But we could see that despite these difficulties, many people endure these hardships to achieve their dream of having a baby.
Later we discussed how important sleep is in treatments like IVF and fertility. Studies have proven that during IVF getting an adequate amount of sleep can help in reducing stress and in coping with the sudden physical and emotional changes due to hormonal intake. Therefore, maintaining good sleep can increase the effectiveness of the treatment and overall health. Last but not least, expectant mothers or those who are undergoing initial IVF treatments should sleep on the left as it is more advantageous.