Anticipating the Emotional Ups and Downs of IVF
Are you trying to get pregnant? If so, you may be considering in vitro fertilization (IVF). While some people are eager to do whatever it takes to have children, others shy away from IVF treatment. Why? Many couples rate IVF as one of the biggest stressors in their lives.
Stress might affect your fertility
Experts are not sure if stress causes infertility, but infertility treatment can certainly cause emotional distress. Studies show that women with depression and anxiety symptoms are less likely to get pregnant naturally or with IVF treatment. One theory for this is that depressed women sometimes have a hormonal imbalance. This can affect their fertility, and make it harder to get pregnant.
IUI or IVF?
To avoid the high cost and high stress of IVF, some infertile individuals try intrauterine insemination (IUI) several times before pursuing IVF. These couples typically do so because they think that:
- IUI can save time and money if it is successful.
- Choosing IUI reduces a large amount of emotional stressors that occur with an IVF cycle.
- They don't want to start over with a new fertility clinic or doctor.
The number of low-tech treatments, like IUI, that one should undergo before considering IVF varies between patients. It depends on your age, diagnosis, and other patient variables. Most physicians recommend that couples do IUIs with injectables no more than three times before trying IVF. Most, though not all, women who are going to conceive through IUI will do so during the first three attempts. If you decide to use IVF, understand the challenges involved.
Why go through with IVF?
So why do couples choose IVF treatment instead of IUI, if it causes so much stress and worry? Here are three reasons why:
- IUI success rates tend to decrease after three or four attempts.
- Pregnancy success rates are higher with IVF than IUI.
- Moving on to IVF sooner rather than later may ensure better success, as increasing age is the nemesis of conception.
The desire to be a parent, especially to a biological child, runs strong. As a result, many infertile couples choose to do all it takes to have children, including taking on the stress of IVF.
Don't let IVF get you down
WIth IVF, your stress may increase with each phase of the IVF cycle. The two-week wait after the embryo transfer is often the worst. Remind yourself that you are not alone. Worry and grief are common feelings associated with IVF and infertility. Here are some top worries associated with IVF:
- Not having enough money to pay for IVF treatment
- The daily demands of IVF treatment
- Missing work for multiple appointments at the fertility clinic
- The effects of hormone treatments
- Whether IVF medications and procedures affect the children that are created
- Failing to conceive altogether
Along with worries about IVF, infertility hormone treatments can stress you and your special someone. Talk to your partner about the emotional impact of the medications you will be using and some potential emotional swings you may encounter during an IVF cycle.
Don't let IVF strain your partnership
IVF treatment might stress you out, and it can certainly strain your intimate relationship. When pregnancy didn't come easily, sex may have seemed mechanical, as you scheduled and planned every intimate moment. The stress of infertility may have zapped your desire for romance and intimacy. Now during IVF treatment, you and your partner may be concerned that IVF might kill the romance again.
If you need professional help
Know that infertility stress does not usually have a long-term impact. In fact, it can bring you and your partner closer together. But if you and your partner just aren’t making a connection, consider counseling. Remind yourself that denial, anger, bargaining and depression are normal feelings of grief that occur with infertility. However, if your feelings of depression, anxiety, or grief become unmanageable, seek help. Counseling and medications help many people get over the emotional distress associated with infertility and IVF treatment.
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