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Odds are you know someone who is going, or has gone, through in vitro fertilization (IVF) — an incredibly invasive and all-encompassing procedure that’s part of an already long journey to conceive a child. Each cycle generally takes about 2 weeks and requires daily injections, frequent ultrasounds, blood work visits with a fertility specialist… yeah, it’s tough.
“The process of IVF, while significantly improving efficiency to pregnancy, can be fraught with physical and mental stress, anxiety, and uncertainty,” explains Anate Brauer, MD, reproductive endocrinologist and IVF director at Shady Grove Fertility in New York City.
She adds, “Physically, many women experience bloating and discomfort as a result of the ovaries growing larger. They are often asked to stop exercising, which can have a significant impact both physically and emotionally.” Managing these side effects alone, along with the almost daily appointments, can be incredibly taxing.
Then there’s the egg retrieval process, which is a short surgery performed under anesthesia where the eggs are retrieved. “On this day the patient must take the day off, which can also be extremely stressful as questions mount about work and social event absences,” says Brauer.
Needless to say, the experience of undergoing IVF is anything but easy — and can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life.
If you have a friend or loved one going through IVF, one of the best things you can do is offer yourself as an outlet of support.
“It is a beautiful thing when an IVF patient has a strong support system consisting of a partner, family members, and/or friends that they can lean on during the trials and tribulations of the process,” shares Mark Trolice, director of The IVF Center and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine.
And while you can’t take away the stress, anxiety and frustration that often comes along with the IVF experience, you can send a care package full of products that can be helpful during this difficult time in your friend’s life. We’ve got ideas to get you started.
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- $$$ = over $20
After a long day of medical treatments, it’s nice to come home to a peaceful environment made more relaxing by candlelight. Not only does this lidded, three-wick candle smell ah-may-zing, but it’s scented with lavender, which has been linked to a reduction in anxiety and depression, among other things.
The flickering light of the candle will help ease the stress of the day, and the stylish jar will make a nice addition to your friend’s living room or bedroom decor.
These cushioned mats, which work similarly to an acupressure massage, can help relieve the aches and pains associated with IVF treatments, notes Trolice.
The mat’s surface is covered in spiky pressure points which, yes, look terrifying. Still, reviewers sing its praises: One describes it as “clearly evil, but extremely effective,” while another calls it a “bizarre fire torture mat provides great relief!”
To use, you simply lay back on the pressure points to help release tight muscles. It’s a great gift, but it couldn’t hurt to get your friend something else more obviously comforting, too.
The experience of undergoing IVF is not for the faint of heart — emotions are high, days are long, and the whole process can feel very serious, to say the least.
That’s why it’s a great idea to give your friend something that will make them smile and lift their spirits, like this sassy mug.
Getting a fuss-free dinner on the table is no easy feat, especially after a long day of work, treatments, and social commitments. That’s where a subscription service like Freshly can come in handy.
Each week, your friend will get fresh, chef-cooked meals that can be heated and served in 3 minutes, delivered right to their doorstop. Unlike meal kits, all they have to do is microwave and enjoy — no cooking required!
A soothing bath at the end of a long day can help take the edge off and relieve some of the aches and pains your friend may be feeling from injections. Adding salts to a bath, like these from Dr Teal’s, can be a real stress reliever.
There’s no evidence that the body can actually absorb enough magnesium from Epsom salts to make an impact, but the smell is nice, and the silky sensation of the water will have them feeling more relaxed in no time.
Invite your pal to slip their tired feet into these super soft and undoubtedly comfortable socks.
The pack comes with two lightweight and breathable pairs that don’t cinch tightly around the ankle and slip on and off easily. They’re a great add-in for a gift basket or as a cozy gift on their own.
As the title of this book suggests, it’s a comedic, self-deprecating take on the struggles that only those who’ve gone through infertility will understand. It honestly dives deep into the harsh and scary realities of the experience, while finding humor in the scenarios many women trying to conceive find themselves in.
If nothing else, this read is sure to remind your friend that they’re far from alone.
One of the best at-home remedies for the pain that your friend might be experiencing after egg retrieval surgery is a heating pad — and ideally one large enough to wrap around their entire stomach and backside. This one is extra large and heats in seconds so your friend can experience instant warming relief.
So much feels out of your control when you’re undergoing fertility treatments, so it’s nice to at least have control over how you organize all the medications you’ll have to take. That’s exactly what this fertility caddy was designed to do.
It has two fold-out trays and a spacious bottom section so your friend can store all of their meds safely and see them clearly when it’s time to take them. Move over, Marie Kondo.
This is a fun and lighthearted way to support your friend undergoing IVF throughout the grueling process of daily shots and medications. Instead of covering the injection sites with any old beige bandage, they’ll have something to smile at knowing you thought of them during such a difficult time.
IVF is a tough journey, and it can be an isolating one at that. Let your friends know you’re there for them, whether it’s by lending an ear or surprising them with a thoughtful gift (or two). It’ll probably mean more than you know.