Can you explain the patient’s fertility journey?
The patients fertility journey, in my opinion, is anything but straightforward. Really the challenges start coming up from the very beginning when couples try to decipher that here we might have a problem.
The initial tendencies are to do a lot of self learning and a lot of internet research to understand what may be going on. It takes a lot of courage for them to then build up and go to the GP, doctor, or sometimes even a fertility specialist to understand whether they need help.
By the time the patients are booking the appointment for their fertility consultation, I think they have taken the most difficult first step towards this journey.
As part of that, London IVF and Genetics Centre we are very particular and sensitive to the challenge that is involved at that very first step. Therefore, we have specifics on that what to expect at the first appointment.
When they come in for their consultation, that is another part in their journey and here they are trying to assimilate lots of information like whether they need the treatment, who might be to blame, what treatment they have to go to, what the effects would be short term or long term, and whether it will work for them or if they might have to go through this journey again. That is a lot of information that they have to take on board, then accept that there is a problem and they have to face up to it.
While they have prepared for it, it leads them to another chapter of the journey where they have accepted the fact that they have to go through a treatment and what the treatment involves.
Because this is not a straightforward treatment, the treatment goes on anywhere from four to up to eight weeks, and in this brief period they are doing plenty of injections that some of the side effects of the injections and self has mood swings. While the female partner is enduring the injections, it’s equally stressful for the male partner to ensure that she’s comfortable and approaching the treatment in a healthy way.
That’s another journey the patients go through, learning how to do the injections, accepting the fact of self injecting, going through surgical procedure, and going through a procedure that they expected should have happened naturally.
Once they’ve been through the treatment, during the next part of the treatment they also have to assimilate lots of information that has been given to them. They are making decisions on a daily basis, for example, are the embryos developing well, are we going to put one embryo back or two embryos back, and is this the right thing to do? They have to make these decisions as choices based on the facts, but the outcome is not really known whether it’s the right decision or wrong.
Then this leads to the next journey, which is dealing with the outcome. In some patients, where the treatment has been unsuccessful, it certainly is frustrating and devastating end to the treatment. In some patients it can become even more challenging when we might say that we don’t know why it hasn’t worked and it is not uncommon for us to suggest so.
In my experience I have also seen where patients have had treatment they have been very apprehensive about the pregnancy and dealing with an ongoing successful pregnancy for some patients has been just as challenging. However, a positive outcome is much better to deal with compared to dealing with an unsuccessful outcome.
I’m very sensitive and aware that a fertility patient who for their first time is trying to approach a fertility clinic and is on the beginning of a journey, that it is going to be challenging and will involve a lot of emotional aspects, which are different in nature at each step of the journey.
Obviously after going through all this treatment, what keeps patients applying themselves through the journey is that that the end outcome is absolutely priceless. A majority of the patients, in my experience who were about to end their journey or they were doing the last treatment and having to see them back come and see me with their babies has been the utmost job satisfaction I could ever get.