IVF and its impact
27 Aug 2015
In- vitro fertilization or fertilisation (IVF) is a choice of treatment in many cases of Female as well Male infertility problems. The success of IVF has been measured in two ways. One with regards to number of confirmed pregnancies, called the pregnancy rate, or the number of live births, called the live birth rate. Due to advances in reproductive technology, IVF success rates are substantially higher today than they were just a few years ago.
Before we move on to read further, we need to remember that couples who opt for IVF see this treatment as a last option for them to have a baby. They have waited for long, have undergone many tests, have witnessed a lot of social stigma and see this treatment as their one last hope. They are desperate, anxious and hopeful all at the same time.
Stress and emotional impact experienced during IVF
To most patients stress of undergoing an IVF is equivalent to that of a major life event. IVF treatment entails not only a heavy medical expense but it also impacts other aspects of life. Like:
·Time consuming: This method of treatment is time consuming and demands a lot of commitment on part of the patient. Often this disrupts ones work life, impacts personal commitment and following a planned schedule which needs to be followed up dedicatedly.
· Impact on marriage: During the treatment of IVF it’s seen that the one aspect that often experiences maximum impact of it is the couple’s marital relation. Some couples have shared their experience, and spoken about how they found it difficult to talk to each other about anything other than the treatment plan. While the other couples confessed on not being able to make healthy peaceful conversation and make a united decision.
· Medical aspects and stress: Dealing with the medical staff and with the side effects or potential complications of medical treatment has its own stress. A lot of women experience side effects like hot flashes, headaches, mood fluctuations. They have to take regular injections, sonograms and have to think about a lot future health angles. Very often couple also have to make stressful decisions regarding embryos, their disposition and multiple pregnancies.
· Third-party involvement: This problem gets a little more complicated when we talk about surrogacy or use of egg donation. Religious, social, and moral issues often become part of our personality in case involving third party reproduction. When we talk about our child and its health and wellbeing we experience a lot of anxiety. Often our values contradict the choice of the treatment and worst couple find themselves disagreeing with each other.
· First treatment cycle: A lot of research and personal experiences of women have shown that, the first treatment cycle is most stress provoking in the couple. This in part due to high levels of confusion, bewilderment, and anxiety. Moreover it’s a new experience with an unfamiliar medical process, medications and treatment protocols that can change during the cycle.
· New medical team: Very often couple have gone from one doctor to another with a lot of hope. Though the IVF treatment may not be totally new to them it could involve working with a new team of healthcare professionals.
· Multiple stages: IVF is done in a series of stages which must be successfully completed before moving on to the next phase of treatment. The final step is the most crucial stage. This is the pregnancy test stage. The level of stress, anxiety, and anticipation rises with each stage, peaking during the waiting period. The two week seems endless to most.
What can one do to cope with IVF and gain the most out of it?
· Educate yourself: The 1st thing a couple wanting to start IVF needs to do is to safe guard your emotional health is to be literate about the IVF process. This helps reduces anxiety and makes one feel more in control of the situation. Being aware and well- read also helps them to cope with unsuccessful cycle or when the progress doesn’t go as planned. If one is not well read they are more likely to be vulnerable and may suffer from an emotional breakdown.
· Prepare your mind for failure: I am not being a pessimist. Most of us do not wish to hear about failure because we are scared of it. Remember, you do not need any emotional preparation to face success but you need lots of emotional groundwork to face failure. The pain a failed IVF cycle creates is enormous, and if you are a weak-hearted person it can paralyze you completely. So take care to prepare yourself for the worst. Write down how you will cope in case your IVF cycle fails. This will help your mind to be prepared for failure and hence the pain becomes a lot easier to deal with.
· Emotional Support from spouse: Build a good emotional support. Starting with your partner. Facilitate communication with your partner by setting a limited amount of time to talk about IVF, such as 20 minutes a day, and then putting infertility talk aside. Discuss ahead of time your hopes and expectations of each other during the cycle. For example, whether you want to be together at appointments, regular calls to the doctors, planning and being aware of appointments etc.
· Other support systems: Gather emotional support from your friends, be part online or otherwise of groups that have been through the IVF treatment.
· Identify your stresses and your coping mechanisms: Each person does this differently. It is not unusual for each member of a couple to react differently to stress. Be sensitive to it. Many couples have spoken about how they have levelled up to a new height in their marital relation after and during IVF.
· Stay fit eat healthy and exercise.
· Make life simple: To help eliminate any unnecessary stress, you will want to make your life as simple as possible during the cycle. Avoid taking up big events like change of house or a job during the treatment.
· Safety and IVF: Last but not the least I would like to address the issue of safety with IVF. One can say ‘IVF is safe enough from what we know’. The risks are small, and need to be kept in perspective, especially when set against the potential benefit of having a child. But we can’t be complacent, we need to keep monitoring especially with new techniques, and although the risks are low, they always need to be explained to prospective parents
Despite the stressful consequences of infertility and IVF, it is important to note that research has shown that the vast majority of patients adjust well emotionally. One also needs to remember that IVF has a high success rate.
How can counselling assist you?
· An IVF counsellor can explain to you the procedure and treatment.
· Counselling can assist you in exploring these issues and what you could encounter during the treatment.
Couple and the counsellor can together anticipate decisions that and discuss your options ahead of time.
· Very often the issues you are scared to discuss with your partner in times of stress can be objectively discussed with your counsellor.
· Counselling can be very helpful when you and/or your partner are feeling depressed, unusually anxious, emotionally stuck or in a rut.
· Don’t hesitate and delay decision by saying, will see when we are faced with it.
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