Very often, IVF stories share the perspective of someone who is about to embark on, or who has just finished, their fertility journey. But what about all the people currently riding that emotional rollercoaster? Having spoken to thousands of patients at that stage, we understand the time, energy and mental strength it can take to tackle another round of IVF. What’s more, the financial strain can become overwhelming. In this interview, which was originally published by our partners Fertility Help Hub, we spoke to Rosie, who is using her refund from an Access Fertility programme to fund her next round of treatment.
Where are you now on your fertility journey, Rosie?
We just finished our fifth attempt, which sadly didn’t work. I felt it was important to share my story, because so much of the literature and social media suggests you’ll be successful first time around. It’s really important that people know and understand that might not be the case.
For us, our infertility is ‘unexplained’. In every round of IVF, I’ve produced lots of eggs, and usually between six and nine fertilised. Each time we’ve implanted two AAAB-graded embryos, but sadly none have resulted in the baby we’ve hoped for.
We’ve tried endo-scratch and embryo glue – it feels like we’re throwing whatever we can at this. In my view, there’s no harm in doing these things, if it might help even one time. However, I haven’t gone down the pre-genetic testing route – the benefit didn’t seem to outweigh the disadvantage for us.
We still have a frozen embryo and another round to go, so we’re not at the end of our journey yet. Nonetheless, we’re realistic about our chances.
That must be very challenging. How do you cope?
From the start to where I am now, it’s been incredible challenging, both physically and emotionally. Undergoing IVF treatment can be very restrictive – you can’t book holidays because you don’t know when you’ll be going into the clinic. There’s a lot of admin to do, and all those little things build up. I was very strict about doing everything by the book, and as a result, I was really stressed. Now I’m a lot more relaxed about it all, and that has really helped. That being said, it’s a process.
Obviously it’s extremely difficult not to get your hopes up, and when you get a negative result, it’s devastating. Seeing others become pregnant, seemingly easily, can make you feel very lonely. I felt a bit ashamed, in a way, that I had to have IVF, and I didn’t want to talk about it. However, once you start having conversations about it, especially with people who’ve been through the same experience, it really helps.
Plus from a financial point of view, having the IVF Refund Programme in place has helped us manage our costs. Not only did it give us peace of mind, but most importantly, the refund has allowed us to continue our treatment, now on the Multi-Cycle Programme.
How did you find out about Access Fertility?
Our clinic, Bourne Hall, told us to look at it. At the time we had lot to take in, and it was all quite confusing. We didn’t realise it was actually a separate company that we had to register with. It seemed like such a good idea, we knew from the outset we wanted to do the IVF Refund Programme. When we were just about to start treatment, the clinic asked how we’d like to pay and we realised then we’d need to register with Access Fertility directly. Fortunately, after a panicked call with a wonderful person at Access Fertility, they rushed our application through for us, and everything was sorted in time.
What attracted you to the IVF Refund Programme?
I’m an accountant, so finances are my thing. When we looked through the options, the IVF Refund Programme looked like a no-brainer. The Multi-Cycle Programme and the IVF Refund Programme (with a 50% refund) were going to cost roughly the same. Critically though, if our treatment didn’t work out, we’d get the refund back, which meant we would have other options. I’m quite practical, and if I thought ‘if it doesn’t work, the refund will give us some financial comfort or bandwidth to go again’.
In the end, that’s exactly what happened. We did three fresh rounds of IVF plus one Frozen Embryo Transfer, but sadly that didn’t work. Fortunately, with the refund, we had the money to pay for some more rounds. It made it a much easier decision, from a financial perspective, to try again.
How has your experience with Access Fertility been?
It’s all been very smooth and very easy. I cannot praise the people I dealt with on that first call enough. They were absolutely fantastic. I’m a lot more chilled these days, but that first round was terrifying – I was in a real tizz. The person I spoke to was absolutely amazing. They really understood the emotional stress I was under. They were calm, reassuring, and dealt with it so quickly, we didn’t have to delay. When you’re on an IVF journey, everything comes down to timing. At that point, everything felt so pressured, and Access Fertility relieved that.
Arranging the refund was super easy. I cannot fault Access Fertility in terms of their processes and how that all happened. They were sympathetic, communication was sensitive, and the refund came quickly.
Would you recommend Access Fertility?
I would. During what is a very difficult and expensive process, you should take the support you can get. The Access Fertility Multi-Cycle Programme (which we’re using now, as I’ve past the age accepted for the Refund Programme) is also really good. Even though there’s no refund, you still save money, and having the unlimited Frozen Embryo Transfers is a real bonus. It’s given us another bite of the cherry.
Do you have any other advice for someone embarking on their fertility journey?
- Find people to talk to who have been through it.
- Don’t fixate on the IVF. The first time for me, it was all-consuming, now I’m more chilled. It’s easier said than done, I know that.
- The drugs regime is tough, it does impact how you feel, so don’t underestimate that. Involve your partner, because it affects you both – you both want this. Support each other through the tough days.
- I like a tipple, and found it hard thinking of an excuse why I wasn’t drinking at events. People may make assumptions that you’re pregnant, which is especially hard. Have your excuses ready early!