What is the role of a fertility nurse in IVF?
Your fertility nurse will be central to your experience with Monash IVF; they are available to answer questions, help you prepare and support you throughout the treatment process.
Fertility Nurse & Pre-Treatment Advice
Our fertility nurses meet with patients to discuss the treatment plan, this usually occurs after appointments with the fertility specialist, the counsellors and the finance team The fertility nurse will be your primary contact throughout your treatment. At your initial meeting, the fertility nurse will explain your treatment plan as prescribed by the fertility specialist and provide a sense of the treatment and how it fits with your natural menstrual cycle (period). Preparation for different treatments vary; some patients will coordinate treatment around their natural cycle, others may synchronise their cycle using the pill to coordinate treatment within a specified timeframe.
In addition, the fertility nurse will educate patients with relation to injections and medications and answer any questions about the planned treatment. This will include familiarising the patient with the medications; what they look like, how to administer, explaining side effects and what to expect, as well as how to store the medications at home. You are encouraged to ask questions in these sessions as it important for you to be comfortable and understand the purpose of the medication and how this will impact the success of your treatment.
In addition to cycle and medication information, the fertility nurse will discuss with patients what they can expect for each procedure and what they need to prepare for, this will include what time off work is recommended, how they might feel, as well as specific information such as fasting. For patients with partners producing sperm in ‘fresh’ treatments; the fertility nurse will discuss the timing of producing the sample and the required number of days abstinence prior
You will receive a support pack, which includes helpful information that you are able to refer to throughout your treatment. This includes details of “who to contact – when” and specific treatment information, you will also be required to complete Medicare and Finance paperwork and a Cycle Consent Form.
What happens on ‘day 1’ & why is it important?
‘Day 1’ refers to day 1 of your menstrual period. ‘Day 1’ can be determined as follows: if your menstrual bleed starts and becomes heavy prior to 6pm then this would be considered ‘day 1’, however if the flow does not get heavy until after 6pm; then the following day would be considered your ‘day 1’.
Day 1 determines the date of all treatment components including when to start your medications, and the dates for scheduled blood tests and scans and ultimately your egg collection or embryo transfer. From this point each next step is dependent on the step before and due to this, you will be asked to contact your fertility nurse on your day 1.
What other professions work with fertility nurses?
A fertility nurse works as part of a multidisciplinary team that is designed to provide excellence in clinical, scientific and emotional care for our patients. This includes liaising with and building rapport with our network of specialist fertility clinicians, clinician’s staff, hospital medical and administration staff, embryologists, andrologists and geneticists, as well as counselling and support staff.
What role does the fertility nurse play in cycle monitoring?
Cycle monitoring is one of the most important parts of a fertility nurses work.
Your fertility nurse will arrange the monitoring of your cycles progress; this includes blood tests and ultrasound scans. Developing follicles and eggs produce the hormone oestrogen this and other hormones such as progesterone and luteinising hormone are measured. The vaginal ultrasound provides information such as how many follicles are growing on each ovary and the measurements of each follicle.
The fertility team, including nurses interprets these results and plans the next step in the treatment which may include more monitoring or timing for egg collection and embryo transfer. Your fertility nurse will contact you in the afternoon of the day that you have had any blood tests or ultrasounds with further instructions. In addition, the nurses time the theatre lists and calculate the time for trigger injections. Your nurse will contact you with detailed information regarding procedure details and times and will ask that you make a note of these.
After egg collection
Your fertility nurse will contact you when the results of the egg collection are available, usually the next morning. The nurse will be able to provide you with information about how many eggs were collected, whether they were able to be put with the sperm and how many embryos have formed. They will advise about further medication and the timing for an embryo transfer. It really is a multi-disciplined approach with the fertility nurses remaining in contact with the scientists regarding the progress of your embryos. This collaboration is unique to Monash IVF and ensures that ongoing information exchange occurs between nurse, scientist, fertility specialist and you, the patient.
An embryo transfer procedure usually occurs 3 – 5 days after egg collection. Your fertility nurse will inform you of the day and time. The nurse will advise you of any embryos that were able to be frozen and organise the paperwork for your pregnancy blood test.
The blood test will be scheduled approximately 2 weeks after egg collection and you will be contacted by the nurse to discuss the results. For a positive pregnancy result; your fertility nurse will advise you of the next steps; how to plan for the coming weeks including arranging a pregnancy scan, referral to an obstetrician and booking into a private hospital.
Not every cycle results in a positive result and the fertility nurse will help to navigate through, interpret results, answer questions and simply be available for you.
What are some common occurrences that you hear from patients at this time?
Many patients experience feelings of pregnancy often straight after embryo transfer; this is due to the medications that promote hormone production and it can be very confusing; in addition, you generally experience a heightened awareness of changes occurring in your body.
What skills do you need to be a fertility nurse?
There are many skills you need to be a successful nurse – a fertility nurse needs to have additional specialist IVF and fertility knowledge. Patience, understanding, compassion, active listening, problem solving and communication are all key skills for fertility nurses to effectively undertake their very important role. A fertility nurse can shape the entire experience for the patient; and it’s just so important they be caring and nurturing individuals to ensure the experience as positive as possible.