70% of women before the age of 35, apart from a major problem, are pregnant after four attempts at IVF. They are only 30 to 40% after 40 years. Nevertheless many women, who have been through this infertility treatment, had no idea what they would have to face.
Infertility treatment is an obstacle course
“I never imagined it would be so hard,” says Caroline, who has been in treatment for three years. Between poor exam results, failed inseminations, the fear of never having children and the feeling that no one understands, “our morale fell very low, until the day we decided to go to a clinic. shrink, which no doctor had offered us ”. Céline also ended up going for a consultation. “For two years, I swallowed my frustrations. Seeing a shrink brought me back to basics: we wanted a child ”.
The law requires centers ofMedically assisted procreation (AMP) to include a psychologist. “But they sometimes only consult for a few hours,” regrets Alix Franceschi-Léger, psychologist at the fertility center of the Diaconesses (Paris). My advice is to build a support team: a shrink, a general practitioner with whom we can discuss, a gynecologist with whom we get along, a yoga teacher to make peace with his body … It is essential to face this whirlwind of emotions ”.
In vitro fertilization has effects on health
“During the first treatments, I had headaches, dizziness, nausea and severe fatigue,” says Axelle, during her fifth IVF (in vitro fertilization). Élodie regrets not having escaped the weight gain due to Water retention, like a third of women after ovarian stimulation.
” The Side effects are different according to the protocol and the reactions of the patient, underlines Dr. François Olivennes, gynecologist, specialist in infertility. Serious complications, such as the risk of thrombosis and phlebitis, are rare, in 1 to 2% of cases. Are more common: heavy legs, the bloated stomach, taking one or two kilos. 6 to 10% of women also complain of unexpected tearfulness “. “AMP, like certain pregnancies or childbirths, is not a fairy tale,” concludes Dr. Joëlle Belaïsch-Allart, gynecologist, who heads the AMP service at the Four Cities Hospital Center in Sèvres.
It’s very busy on a daily basis
“You need endurance,” explains Caroline. It’s here race between appointments, treatments, work, the everyday. Three years later, we’re still there. If I had known, I would have organized myself differently ”. Because some doctors do not give an appointment for months, others delete exams that prove to be crucial after failures and you have to go back to the previous box …
“Since 2016, the law allows women to“ benefit from leave of absence for the necessary medical procedures”And the spouse to accompany him to three appointments per protocol. “Couples sometimes feel like they are wasting time, but the body needs to rest,” says Dr Olivennes. You have to wait two or three months between each IVF. We can’t go any faster ”.
You have to fight to get explanations
“At the beginning, my appointments lasted 10 to 15 minutes, the doctors were satisfied with the minimum and I took in the information slowly,” says Caroline. It is the nurse who explained to me the treatment, its side effects … I regret that the doctors do not take the time to sit down to talk ”. For Dr Olivennes, there would be educational efforts to be made, “but the doctors are drowned in the demands. I cannot devote more than 20 minutes to each one ”. You have to dare to ask questions.
The couple is mistreated when there is medically assisted procreation
“You have to forget the glamor when your guy is next to you and you have a speculum in your vagina, when he has to masturbate alone in his office, when you have to make love on a date,” said a woman. Two areas of tension: the useful sexuality and the gap between the involvement of one and the other.
“We have the feeling of being the only one physically involved, with all that we endure,” adds another. “We must never forget that a baby is made together, and that without the man nothing happens, underlines Alix Franceschi-Léger. The couple is mistreated because it is a very intrusive medicine. But it must remain a place where to speak, to be listened to and to listen to the other. “And Céline to testify:” We had to learn to keep, despite the difficulties, humor, tenderness and hope.
We have the right to change AMP center
From Céline, who was auscultated by six different gynecologists, to Élodie, who felt like nothing more than a womb, many testify to the dismay faced with the feeling of being just a “medical object”. “The expression to be “Dispossessed of her body” makes sense. My body is reduced to ‘ovary’, ‘follicle’ and ‘endometrium’, ”says Caroline.
“It is not their body which is a medical object, but their problem,” recalls Alix Franceschi-Léger. And medicine takes care of their problem. “If the dialogue is difficult and if we do not feel respected or not enough taken into account, we can change the medical team,” advises Virginie Rio, spokesperson for the BAMP association, which brings together infertile people.
Map of France IVF centers on the site of the Biomedicine Agency.
The success rate of IVF is low
“I wish we had been told that we can fail. We have all the hope and the impression that the AMP always ends up working, well no, far from it, ”observes Élodie. She is not the only one: “If we had been told from the start, it would have thrown a chill, but it is a reality for which we must be prepared”.
Why don’t doctors advertise failure rates? “Because there are great differences from one center to another, depending on the techniques and the patient base,” explains François Olivennes. And because some people don’t want to demoralize couples right away. But I am in favor of transparency. ”
Medicines do not increase the risk of breast cancer
Drugs commonly used to release eggs during in vitro fertilization do not increase the risk of developing a disease, according to a study published in June 2021. breast cancer. These findings were published in the journal Fertility and Sterility.
Medicines used to stimulate the ovaries increase the estrogen hormone production and can act on breast cells. Scientists feared it could make cells cancerous. The review looked at studies from 1990 to January 2020. “Researchers found no significant increased risk for women exposed to treatment compared to untreated women and untreated women who were infertile,” the study notes.