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TIPS FOR HANDLING EMOTIONAL STRESS OF IVF

Author Name: Dr.Nivedita Goverdhan || Mentor Name: Dr. R.V. Singh on April 27, 2020

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is not just a treatment modality for couples battling infertility; it is a journey filled with lots of ups and downs, dealing with physical, emotional and financial stress, having faith in something that you have very little knowledge about, and in the end, experiencing overwhelming happiness when you hear the words which you have been dying to hear for years, that you are finally pregnant. However, it definitely takes time and patience to reach the final outcome. Throughout this journey, the couple faces a variety of challenges, and they have to deal with a lot of situations which put different kinds of stress on them.

Understanding the problem

Stress-related to IVF can be multifaceted; be it physical, mental, emotional, financial, religious or social. The magnitude of the problem may be different in each couple depending on their personalities, support system, life experiences and inner strength.

Physical stress: Daily hormonal injections, their effects on the body, and the process of oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer coupled with multiple visits to and from the hospital can be physically taxing for the patients.

Mental stress: IVF treatment, especially for the first time, puts a strain on your mind regarding unfamiliarity of the process, being handled by an unknown medical team, being unsure about the chances of success of the process and the time required for the treatment.

Emotional stress: Becoming parents is a big dream for most people, and the inability to do so weighs them down emotionally. The fear of not achieving a favourable end result puts an enormous emotional burden on patients. The stress and anxiety is maximum in the two week period following embryo transfer, awaiting the final result of the treatment.

Financial, Social and Religious stress: IVF is a costly process and may stretch you out financially; and the probability of requiring more than one attempt is definitely daunting, especially for people with limited financial resources. Along with this, the societal pressure, the stigma of being labelled as infertile and being excluded from regular societal and religious norms, for this reason, makes couples additionally stressed out.

Tips for coping with the stress

Although research has shown that there are largely no long term implications of the stress experienced during IVF, it is still helpful if couples follow a few basic steps to keep their IVF journey as stress-free as possible.

  • Being informed about IVF: Before starting treatment, it will be wise to gather all information and getting your concepts and doubts clear regarding the treatment process, time and resources required, problems that may be encountered, possible complications and chances of successful outcome. This will not only help you with planning and making difficult decisions for the treatment process, but it will also prepare you for possible setbacks and frustration encountered during treatment. Be open with your doctor and talk to them regarding your fears and uncertainties. You can also talk to couples who have already undergone IVF treatment, or join support groups to help alleviate your worries and concerns.
  • Asking for help and building a support system: Confide in your close friends and family about your decision and take their advice as well. Instead of keeping such a big decision to yourself, sharing it with people close to you and talking about the problems and challenges you are facing will definitely help you cope with the stress better. If required, getting help from a therapist or counsellor is also an encouraging option.
  • Looking for healthy distractions: This is needed the most during the waiting period following embryo transfer as the result of IVF is equivalent to awaiting the result of the most important exam of your life. Keeping emotional stress at bay is of utmost importance during this period, as it can negatively impact the outcome. Plan a vacation, take up your favourite hobby, hang out with friends or family, read your favourite books. These are some things which will keep you distracted and stress free.
  • Avoiding negativity: Keep yourself far away from people and situations that negatively impact your mind and body.
  • Rest, meditation and taking care of your body: Don’t overburden your body and mind. It’s ok to take some rest and give time to yourself to take care of your body. Try meditation to calm your mind. It may also help you sleep better at night.

To conclude, remember that there is no point in getting stressed out over things that you can’t control. Irrespective of the outcome of IVF, appreciate yourself for doing all that is within your power to have a child.

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