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Jan 21, 2019

How do I fit in IVF treatment as a working woman?

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Sarah Walt

If you are considering fertility treatment, one of the common worries is "how am I going to be able to fit in appointments as I work full time?"

Most people find the whole idea of fertility treatment scary due to the fear of the unknown. Here we hope to alleviate some of those worries and to explain the timing of IVF treatment, the usual number of appointments required and how it can fit in with working and a busy social life.

If you have been told that IVF treatment is right for you, then you will be wondering about how many times you are going to have to come out of work and what you will need to tell your boss.  Here we explain how many visits will be required and the timeline of events.

There are a couple of different protocols for IVF treatment but the most common is the long cycle. This treatment lasts 7 weeks from day 1 of your period to the day of the egg collection.


Before you start treatment, you and your partner will need to attend the clinic for a pre-treatment appointment. This is where the consent forms are signed and all the medication is explained. The required blood screening tests are usually done at this appointment for both partners. This is best done a week before your day 1 at the beginning of the 7 weeks. You and your partner need to be at this appointment, which usually lasts about one and a half hours. After this appointment, your partner does not need to attend the clinic until the day of the egg collection if it is difficult for them.

After the pre-treatment appointment, you will be asked to call on day 1 of your period. This is when all your appointments for the treatment are then arranged. At TFP we use a patient portal where you can easily view your appointments and medication information on your phone or other device. We can send you messages and reminders via the portal.

For the first 3 weeks of the 7 weeks, you are not needed at the clinic. You may be asked to take the contraceptive pill each morning but you won’t have any appointments.

At the end of the third week you may have opted to have the endometrial scratch procedure which may help to prepare the lining of the womb to accept an embryo. This is a 20-minute appointment and you can go straight off to work afterwards. It is similar to a smear test—not pleasant, but bearable!

You will then be starting on your first set of injections in the mornings. This is a really easy injection into your tummy which we will show you or your partner how to do at the pre-treatment appointment. You will take this little injection every morning for the next 2 weeks—week 4 and 5 of the 7 weeks.  You will have a bleed like a period during this time.

At the end of week 5, you will come into the clinic for a quick scan so that we can check the lining of the womb is thin and that your ovaries are nice and quiet.  If this is the case you will start an injection every evening for weeks 6 and 7, continuing with the injection in the morning. You may experience some mild side effects—most people feel no different at all and people continue to work as normal.

It is during weeks 6 and 7 that you will need to attend the clinic for scans to check how the follicles on your ovaries are developing. You may need to come in 3-4 times. They are quick 10-minute appointments and we try to work around your work schedule. We start scanning early in the morning and lots of people manage to have a scan and then go straight off to work. There are some side effects of the medication but often people do not experience these and women carry on their normal lives all through treatment.

At the end of week 7 your egg collection will take place. You will need to have the day off work for this. It is done under heavy sedation so you do not feel any pain at all. You will recover and go home within a couple of hours. Some people have the next day off work, others return to work.

The embryo transfer happens on either day 3 or 5 following the egg collection depending on embryo development. This is a very simple procedure similar to a smear test. You are not given any medication, but may wish to take it easy the rest of the day. You then wait for almost 2 weeks before a pregnancy test can be done. You can return to work and carry on as normal avoiding any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise.

Many people manage to carry on their working life and day to day activities alongside IVF treatment. The best plan is to try to keep things as normal as possible. If you travel abroad for work or you have a short trip planned, this is possible to continue with even if you need to take medication with you–we can give you a letter to get you through customs with needles and syringes.

If your plans for 2019 include trying to have a baby and you need some help to conceive, please remember that support is just a phone call away.

For more information we have two open evening events per month and if you would like a more personal approach we also offer a free one to one appointment with one of our fertility experts who can discuss in details the options available to you and personalise the advice according to your own personal circumstances.

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