Beginning the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is intimidating, even for the most courageous of women. As with any new experience, you have no idea what to expect. If you’re anything like me, your mind will be reeling with thoughts about what’s to come—you wonder how you’ll feel emotionally and physically, how you’ll handle giving yourself daily injections (sometimes multiple times a day), and you’ll fret over whether it will work in the end.

I won’t lie, the process isn’t easy. This is not to discourage anyone from IVF—it is the most successful way to get pregnant if you have issues with infertility. However, if you don’t know anyone that’s been through it, or you have no one to turn to for advice or that “been there” level of support, it can feel lonely and scary.

The tips that I provide do not include specific foods to eat, vitamins to take, or ways to increase fertility. They are words of wisdom that relate more to the emotional experience of beginning IVF from someone that’s been through the process. As I said, the process isn’t easy and can be daunting. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get through it. Here are a few tips that will help you along the way.

1. Don’t Google (or limit your searches). When I first began the IVF process, I googled everything from “what to expect” to “success rates of IVF” to watching YouTube videos of people giving themselves injections. Needless to say, the results were mixed and did little to ease my mind. What I learned from my obsessive online searching was that everyone’s experience with IVF is different. Some felt symptoms from the hormones more acutely (depressed, tired, moody, etc.), whereas others didn’t suffer too many ill side-effects or had mild ones. The internet can’t tell you how YOU will experience IVF. If you can’t help yourself from Googling, keep in mind that there are a lot of different IVF protocols and it’s difficult to get specific answers as they relate to your situation. My advice is don’t spend hours scouring different websites or forums for answers. Your time is better spent doing something that will relax you. Instead, do a search on meditation techniques or watch something uplifting.

2. Be cautious when visiting online infertility support boards/forums. Online forums can be a great place to turn to if you’re seeking advice and support from real women on the IVF journey, or if you want to learn about other’s experiences or success with IVF. They can also be depressing (and confusing—see tip #3). From my observations, many of the posts are from women who aren’t having success or want answers to a worrisome situation that they’re experiencing. This is usually the reason why you end up turning to these boards in the first place—something bad happened (or you fear it has), so you want answers that will ease your mind. The forums are a mix of positive and negative accounts—unfortunately, more negative than positive—and you can sense lots of panic in some posts. The bad thing about these forums is that you often never know what happens to the person who posted the question. Not a lot of people return with updates or to share the good news. Some do, but mostly you’re left wondering. My point is, reading all the different stories can take a toll on your emotions. The IVF process is a roller-coaster ride and hopping on someone else’s roller-coaster can leave your head spinning and your nerves frayed. I will say, however, that the support these women provide is enormous and always encouraging.

3. Don’t be overwhelmed by all the jargon. The second reason I avoid online forums is because they are usually brimming with acronyms—and there are acronyms for EVERYTHING—and lots of fertility lingo. For example, BD=Baby Dance, or sex. Why not just say sex?! AF=Aunt Flo. Can we not just call it a period?? There are many, many more. It’s not so much the euphemisms that bother me; it’s all the abbreviations for them. There is actually a website that decodes them all. I just don’t see the point; it only adds to the confusion and feeling of overwhelm. The medical terms are confusing enough, and it seems like everyone has an advanced degree in reproductive medicine. I started to feel like I was failing a biology or algebra class when I’d read these forums. Here’s an example: “I had a positive beta on 16dpt 9dp5dt and a strong line on frer 10dp5dt.” If you’ve never been through IVF and come across something like this, it’s confusing to say the least. For a while, I would jot down a bunch of things I wanted to ask my doctor, but I stopped myself. I believe knowledge is power, but in this case, it’s just adding fuel to an obsessive fire. Knowing your estradiol levels won’t change them. The more you know, the more you’ll stress. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. As long as you feel confident and trust your doctors, leave the medical stuff to them. Again, spend your time doing something relaxing—it will be better for you in the long run.

4. The fear of giving yourself injections will subside. This seems to be the part that makes most people anxious, including me. If you have a severe phobia of needles, this can be enough to stop you from going through with IVF at all. But if you’re brave enough to give yourself the first shot, you’ve gotten through the hardest part. I’m not needle-phobic but, I will say, it is unnerving to stick yourself with a needle for the first time. However, once you do it, you realize it’s not that bad at all. And after you’ve done it a few times, it becomes much less frightening. If you have someone that can administer your injections for you, that’s even better. I had to inject twice daily, which meant that I had no choice but give myself some injections. I wanted to do the first one myself so that I knew I could do it. It’s a good thing I did because when it came time for my husband to give me an injection he nearly passed out—literally had to sit down and take deep breaths. I did the rest of the injections myself while he supported me with encouragement (he’s much better at that).

5. Don’t panic when it comes to learning how to mix IVF medications. A little story: When I was sitting in my fertility clinic learning how to mix my IVF medications, I thought it was a joke. I thought there was no way they would allow someone with zero medical experience to mix medications that were to be injected into my body. My protocol required a cocktail of three meds to mix, which meant drawing up specific doses, reconstituting one medication, and combining all three into one syringe so that I only had to administer one injection. They had us practice the mixing process once, and the entire time I was thinking: I will never remember all of this! I’m so going to mess this up. Omg, can you die from an IVF overdose!? Then the day came when the IVF medications arrived at my front door, and the sheer size of the box was intimidating. When I opened it up and saw the amount of medications and syringes packed inside, I was panicked and started to question if I could go through it. It was all incredibly overwhelming, and I hadn’t even started yet. The first night, it took over an hour to figure out how to mix the medications; it seemed everything I learned in class a week earlier happened months ago. Eventually, I figured it out and obviously didn’t die.

When it comes time for you to mix medications, take a long, deep breath and do not panic. Hopefully, your doctor or nurse is available to answer your questions and ease your mind. My clinic recommended this helpful website with videos that demonstrate how to mix most injectable medications: This site was a lifesaver for me. The first time doing this is the hardest in many ways. All that you’ve stressed about is on the verge of happening—the shots, the hormones, the entire process. I guarantee that the following night the whole process will be so much easier. And by night three, you’re a pro and thinking about making your own YouTube video on how to mix and administer IVF injections.

6. Surround yourself with supportive people and lean on them. For a couple of weeks, your life will revolve around IVF. You’ll have to go to lots of appointments for sonograms and blood work. You’ll start to feel like a pincushion and quickly get tired of having probes stuck up your cooch. Hopefully, you’ll get encouraging news as you move through the process (meaning lots of large follicles). But you may not. Regardless, it’s crucial that you surround yourself with supportive people, and that you lean on them when you need to. IVF can be a lot to handle emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. Talk about what you’re feeling, don’t hold it all in. If you’re tired, then rest. If you need a mental health day, take one. Throughout this process, put your needs at the forefront. And know that you’re the bravest, badass there ever was for even taking this journey.

I hope these tips were helpful and eased some of the worry that may be present when beginning IVF. *Baby dust* to anyone currently undergoing IVF (that’s fertility lingo for lots of good luck with conceiving). I hope you are blessed with success after just one round; but if you aren’t, don’t lose hope.

Author's Bio: 

Virginia Murphy, M.S., M.S.Ed. is a self-professed wellness addict obsessed with all things related to increasing happiness and balancing mind, body, and soul. She has studied psychological well-being for nearly fifteen years. Virginia has earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling, a master’s in education, and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree (concentrating in clinical social work). She is the founder and writer of a blog called Live & Relate, which strives to bring people together in the human experience. In this blog, Virginia delves into the many facets of life, including relationships, family life, and work—topics in which many can relate. The purpose of her blog is to create a sense of community, open up discussions about our shared experiences, and to disseminate wellness news and tips that will enhance our lives and well-being. You can read her latest articles on her website You can also follow Virginia on Twitter: @Live_Relate