In all probability, by the time your doctor recommends in vitro fertilisation (IVF), you’ve already experienced years of extreme stress and anxiety that often accompany infertility.
The idea is not to scare you but these feelings can become intense and may magnify when you start the IVF procedure.
According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, patients have rated undergoing IVF as more stressful than, or almost as stressful as, any other major life event, including the death of a family member or a divorce.
Stress And IVF Success Are Related: Study
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The results of the new study conducted by the Nazarbayev University’s Department of Medicine and Department of Biomedical Sciences, reveal that high anxiety lowers your chances of pregnancy via IVF.
Struggling to get pregnant is understandably a stressful time. Researchers of the study evaluated how factors like stress, anxiety, and depression affect conception rates of IVF.
As part of the study, researchers considered 142 women referred to a fertility clinic. They had to fill out a questionnaire prior to undergoing the fertility treatment.
Each of the questions specifically asked the participants about their experience with mental health. The results revealed that over half of the women were at risk of being diagnosed with depression.
In addition to this, the majority of the respondents expressed high levels of stress.
The researchers did a follow up with the women eight weeks after undergoing IVF to see if conception took place. The data revealed that women who had high levels of anxiety were less likely to become pregnant.
They, however, found no evidence to suggest stress and IVF success depended on each other.
Couples Can Benefit From Counselling Before Starting Fertility Treatments
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The authors of the study suggest:
- Individuals and couples can benefit from counselling before starting any fertility treatments.
- Identifying and further treating mental health conditions like anxiety can improve the chances of becoming pregnant after treatment.
- IVF clinics should directly provide psychological support to patients to address existing anxiety, which can likely improve conception rates.
Similar studies have also linked the presence of mental health conditions to poor IVF results. A study published in December 2020 concluded that when infertility-related stress remains high, there’s a lower chance of becoming pregnant even after fertility treatments.
The authors emphasised the need for psychological interventions to improve the success of IVF.
Tips To Deal With The IVF Stress
While IVF is a physical procedure, it may need you to be mentally strong as well. Here are some tips that can come in handy.
- Stay equipped with knowledge: One of the best antidotes for anxiety is information and knowledge. Brush up on what you know and clear any doubts by speaking to your doctor.
- You will need to make some major decisions: Be prepared mentally that you may need to make some decisions during IVF. This includes how many embryos to transfer and what to do with any of the extra embryos.
- Check if you are in a good place emotionally: You should be entering motherhood in a happy space and that’s extremely important, whether it’s natural or through IVF. You will also need a great partner who will be your rock-solid support during the entire process.
- Don’t overcomplicate your life for some time: You can avoid major decisions, life changes or high-stress work and family situations.
- Exercise: You need to consider meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery and yoga to take care of your mental health.
How To Accept Unsuccessful IVF
While we do hope for the best always, there are times when luck may not be in our favour. A report suggests that most women see success rates of 20-35 per cent per cycle.
However, the likelihood of getting pregnant decreases with each successive round, while the cost increases substantially.
There’s no denying that if you go through an unsuccessful IVF, you will have to deal with sadness, loss and disappointment.
Here are tips to help to protect yourself emotionally:
- Limit the number of people you tell about your cycle.
- As partners, you may need to grieve, so take some time off because you may not want to be at work.
- Never plan any potentially stressful events around the time you expect to hear this news.
At any point in time during your cycle or after, if you experience anxiety or depressive symptoms, always consult with a mental health professional who comes with experience and knowledge to handle such cases.
Pregnancy is beautiful and it doesn’t matter whether it takes place naturally or through IVF. The important part is that you are healthy throughout the entire process and so is the baby.
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