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Struggling with IVF stress?

In this article we review some common stresses and worries that are often associated with IVF. We offer you tips and suggestions to help you handle IVF stress, regaining a sense of control during IVF treatment.

1. Do you feel anxious about IVF?
Practice positive thinking and positive self-talk. Soothing words like, ‘just take one step at a time’ can help keep you on track. To reduce anxiety, choose your IVF treatment team carefully. Make sure you feel comfortable with your treatment team. For instance, do your providers answer your questions in a supportive manner?

2. Are you afraid that IVF treatment will fail?
Reduce your fear of failure by framing your first IVF treatment cycle as diagnostic. Although you have a good chance of becoming pregnant, if the cycle is not successful, realize that subsequent IVF cycles will involve perfecting your medication and treatment protocol to optimize your chance of success.

3. Are you confused about your IVF treatment options?
Educate yourself. Knowledge can help you feel in control. Learn about the IVF process you will undergo, and both the potential success and disappointments you may encounter along the way.

4. Are you uncomfortable taking hormone drugs for IVF?
If so, talk to your providers. Ask them about available research on both the short and long term effects of the hormones you will be taking.

5. Are you afraid of getting frequent shots with IVF?
The injections used are given with a very tiny needle, not painful, and you will be taught to administer them. Even the most “needle phobic” patients have accomplished learning this skill with no problem.

6. Do you feel alone in this process?
Ask your providers about a counselor or therapist that can offer you emotional support. Or, consider joining a support group with others who understand the IVF treatment process. Supporting others, even when you feel so in need of support yourself, can be very empowering, as it reminds you of the strength of your own inner resources in facing adversity.

7. Are you fearful of the IVF process and result?
If you are worried that you will never get pregnant, let those worries go. The way in which we think about anything that we experience determines how we will feel about it. While we cannot choose our external circumstances, how we choose to react and respond in any given situation is the one thing over which we can always have control.

8. Do you feel like it’s all your fault?
Compartmentalize your reproductive self from the rest of who you are. When treatment fails, it doesn’t make you a failure. If you are following the recommendations of your providers and maintaining healthy self-care, you are doing everything right. Mind/body therapy groups can be helpful as you learn to cope more effectively with stress. Ask your therapist about relaxation, meditation, breathing and positive thinking techniques. Many women have found interventions such as acupuncture to be very helpful.

9. Are finances a concern?
Map out the emotional and financial costs associated with various fertility treatments. This will give you a clearer understanding of what lies ahead so that you can be better prepared. You may decide to undergo one more intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle, and if that doesn’t work, you will consider moving on to IVF treatment. Consider if you have the option of undergoing more than one IVF cycle if your first cycle is not successful. If IVF doesn’t work for you, would you consider other alternatives to family building? Your providers and their financial counselor (usually the Business Manager) will guide you as to the best decisions you can make.

10. Are you feeling depressed about infertility?
Learn stress management and relaxation techniques. New or unfamiliar situations tend to make people feel anxious. Women undergoing fertility treatment often have these feelings – you’re not alone. Techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and visualization can help you manage your emotional reactions to your IVF cycle. These techniques may not guarantee a pregnancy, but they may reduce any emotional distress. Infertility exerts a tremendous toll, mentally and physically, on individuals. Some women may become clinically depressed during treatment, which may require professional mental health treatment. Talk to your providers if you think you need professional help.

Get help from friends and family
Screen your family and friends. Who do you find to be understanding, nonjudgmental, and supportive? Let these individuals know when you need help and support. Inform them that this may change from day to day during your treatment. Thus, they may need to look to you for guidance as to what your needs are on any particular day.

Adapted from:

American Fertility Association. Emotional and Psychological Obstacles to IVF

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