What to expect before expecting?
Often, potential carriers are so excited about being matched to Intended Parents that they do not have the opportunity to fully wrap their minds around all the things that happen prior to being matched. As someone on the clinic side who helps facilitate the carrier cycle, I would love to share some insight to help you prepare for this big event.
5 Things to do before and during your medical screening:
- Eat Something: We often see potential carriers come into the clinic so nervous that they have skipped breakfast. I highly recommend having something in your stomach because you will need to collect multiple vials of blood for your testing. Doing this on an empty stomach may make you feel lightheaded or queasy. The other reason you should eat before the visit is because you never know exactly how long your screening will take. If you have already skipped breakfast in addition to going through the various physical examinations, your next meal can seem very far away.
- Bring Someone with You: Always check with your clinic first, because of COVID restrictions, this may not be possible. If the clinic allows you to bring a companion, please do! It can be easy to forget all the information provided during these visits. Having a second set of ears will help immensely. If you cannot have someone join you, bring a notebook and take notes so that you can review them later.
- Wear something comfortable: Since you will be asked to undergo a series of testing, much of which requires you to get in and out of your clothing, be sure to wear something that is easy to remove. Bonus points if it is something comfy! Also, many clinics require fallopian tube testing and the dye used for the Hysterosalpingogram will leave your body in the hours following the test. (Be sure to wear your least favorite undergarments on this day.) The clinic may provide a pad, but I suggest bringing one with you as well, this way you are not stuck using a brand you do not enjoy.
(Tip: Avoid tennis shoes. I cannot tell you how many carriers get stuck tying and untying their laces. For some reason the added pressure of having someone wait on you makes this simple task unnecessarily stress-inducing)
- Ask Questions and ask your clinician to slow down (if necessary): Clinics review these topics daily so that what they are reviewing sounds perfectly reasonable to them but may seem totally foreign to you. The last thing they want is for you to be missing information or experience stress trying to figure out what the heck they are talking about! So be sure to request they slow down or reexplain anything you are unsure about.
- Relax as much as possible: Have some warm tea and wear your favorite eye mask the night before your appointment. It can be intimidating coming into a fertility clinic for the first time so make sure you relax leading up to it. Our hope is that once you arrive you will begin to feel at ease when you finally meet your coordinator and clinical support team.
It can be incredibly stressful leading up to a clinic’s physical evaluation because there is so much pressure to be the “perfect” candidate. Please remember that no one is perfect and even just attempting to do this for a family is a wonderful gesture. Do not try to be a superhero! If you are not feeling well after a test or are experiencing any pain, please do not keep that to yourself. You will be undergoing a lot of testing in one day and it is normal to have cramping or be slightly sore, but it is not normal to be in continuous pain. Your health is a priority and many carriers’ are scared to “bother” the clinic but it’s their job to make sure you are safe. Always let your clinic know if you don’t feel like yourself following the exams.
Written by: Breanna Alvarado, Third-Party Coordinator at Aspire Fertility