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How to cope with stress and emotions during an IVF treatment?

Embarking on IVF treatment at assisted reproduction (AR) centres can be a stressful process for some couples. There are many new experiences for couples to learn and manage within a short period of time. Hence, it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed.

Stimulation phase of IVF treatment

IVF stimulation can be intense. Depending on the IVF treatment protocol, a combination of medications may be required for the stimulation of follicles. These medications are often in the form of injection, whereby patient has to inject the medications for 8 – 14 days to induce ovaries to produce many eggs during that IVF cycle. The duration of stimulation will depend on the individual’s follicle growth. These medications may lead to some women experiencing mood swings due to the hormonal changes in the body. It is totally ok and normal to have mood fluctuations.

Enduring the wait

There is a lot of waiting during an IVF treatment. The process of waiting includes the wait between each appointment to check for the progress and growth of the follicles during IVF stimulation, the wait for fertilisation result and embryo development status after oocyte retrieval and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the wait for uterus lining to be suitable for implantation during embryo transfer, and finally the 2 weeks wait to test for pregnancy. These waits may add additional negative emotions such as frustration and anxiousness to the IVF process.

Financial stress

The cost of an IVF treatment is not cheap. Although there are government co- fundings (public AR centres only) and the use of medisave (lifetime limit of $15,000) to offset the out-of-pocket payment at private and public AR centres, couples may still experience financial stress if they require multiple cycles and has used up their medisave lifetime limit.

The fear of failed IVF cycle

The biggest fear for most couples is having the fear of a failed IVF cycle that resulted in a negative pregnancy outcome. It is common for couples to feel disappointed with the treatment outcome. Couples who had failed pregnancy and miscarriages may experience emotional up and downs.

 

Tips on how to manage your emotional health during an IVF treatment:

1. Get emotional support from spouse

No one deserves to go through IVF treatment alone. Emotional support from your spouse can have a positive impact on your IVF journey. Share your emotions with him, be it positive emotions or negative ones. It can make your IVF journey a pleasant experience.

2. Get help from experienced fertility counsellor

Sometimes, you may find that getting professional help can be more effective in managing your emotions. Experienced fertility counsellor can understand your situation better and provide all the information you need. He/ she may also be there for you if you need someone to speak to. You can request an appointment with the counsellor at your fertility clinic.

3. Appreciate and acknowledge yourself

Embarking on IVF journey is not as easy as it seems. The effects of the treatment can be tremendous and may affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being. By learning to appreciate your own efforts, acknowledging yourself and accepting that you are going through a stressful period, it helps you to understand your emotions and manage them better.

4. Choose a fertility clinic that has your best interests at heart

It is important to go for the fertility clinic with a team that you believe, trust and make important decisions with. This is a team of doctor, embryologists and nurses who can provide reassurance, encouragement and support that you need throughout your IVF journey.

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