Everything you wanted to know about IVF (but were afraid to ask)

We have a guest blogger this month. Mish Slade has been receiving treatment at CRGH and became a new mother in January of this year. Like many IVF patients she found the process intense and bewildering at times and decided to do something – both for herself and for every couple on the journey towards their own miracle. We have no editorial input into the site and so can’t officially vouch for all of the content, but we love the concept, and the site is well designed and carefully researched. We hope you find her blog and her new website helpful and wish you the same success with treatment!


“Are these blood test results good or bad?” my husband asked as he glanced down at the piece of paper. “The doctor didn’t seem worried – he didn’t even mention them. But whoa: your AMH levels are through the roof. What does that mean?”


We turned to Dr Google to find out – and quickly became overwhelmed with conflicting information, scaremongering, and message board histrionics from fellow IVF patients who were just as unsure about the implications of their own test results.


For the next few months, that little routine became my life when it came to any of my IVF-related questions:


What’s OHSS? Am I at risk? What can I do to prevent it?


What does the IVF process look like from start to finish? What am I in for?


Should I do a frozen embryo transfer or fresh?


What side effects are really likely to happen to me?


What the heck is an “antral follicle count”?


What can I do to boost my chances of success?


And so many more that I should probably change search engine: Google knows an embarrassing amount about me by now.


I could have asked my doctors, of course – and I often did. But there are two things wrong with doctors (among the gazillions of wonderful things, of course). Firstly, they’re busy: they have other childless people to treat, and they simply can’t dedicate too much precious time to explaining the difference between a zygote and a blastocyst. Secondly, “medicine” is their language of choice – meaning they have a habit of communicating things in a way that isn’t as helpful or understandable as they may think.


I’m a writer (and compulsive researcher), so – after weeks of haphazard and frantic explorations across the internet – I decided to take a more systematic and sensible approach to getting the answers I was seeking. Using a combination of trustworthy online resources, reputable offline ones, and advice from fertility experts, I created a website called The Duff, which demystifies and explains all aspects of the IVF process.


The Duff is written in plain English and contains plenty of diagrams to help make everything more understandable. There are also tons of lame jokes and silly pictures, because finding the fun in IVF is definitely underrated.


Articles include “The IVF process from start to finish“, “7 things no one tells you about IVF (and what to do about them)“, “Fresh embryo transfer vs frozen“, and “AMH levels: what you need to know” – among many others.


The Duff is suitable for both people who want to understand absolutely everything about IVF – including all the sciencey stuff – and for those who just want to know what’s going to happen, when, how much it will hurt, and what they can do to prevent or treat certain side effects.


It’s completely free, ad-free and product-free, and I hope it helps to answer all the questions you have about IVF and fertility in general. I’m constantly adding new articles to the site, so email me (mish@theduff.co.uk) if there are any topics you’d like to read in particular: I’ll put them to the top of my list!