In vitro fertilization is a form of assisted reproductive technology carried out to aid in conception of a child.  People undergo stress due to some change that causes a physical or emotional strain in their body and anxiety is the body’s physical or emotional reaction to stress.  Most people usually have some degree of stress, but too much stress or chronic stress over a long period of time can feel too overwhelming having a toll on your physical as well as mental health and it’s important during these times to learn how to alleviate it.

Signs of stress/anxiety

Some signs of stress might include worrying excessively, being fearful, having trouble concentrating, irritability, increased heart rate, having difficulty breathing or having panic attacks, having difficulty sleeping, change in eating patterns, often feeling tired, or feeling depressed.

IVF and how it could affect you

People struggling with infertility may already be experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety by failing to conceive for more than a year and there is a social stigma associated with being infertile and seeking treatment for infertility.  IVF involves going through various consecutive steps and each has to be completed successfully in order to move onto the next step.  This could lead to increased anxiety with each subsequent stage with the highest anxiety experienced in the final two week waiting period to find out if you are indeed pregnant.  This could be especially difficult for men who sometimes find it hard to discuss their feelings openly and keep it all balled up inside.  They might feel helpless as they see their female partner go through the various aspects of IVF like the daily hormone injections, blood tests, and ultrasound scans and it could also lead to a roller coaster of emotions like guilt, anxiety and sadness while they feel the need to outwardly project themselves as the strong, stoic type.  This could put a strain on marital relationships.

So how do you deal with the feelings of stress and anxiety?

  1. Identify in detail what is causing you stress.  You might be worried about if you will ever have kids, or about what your partner is going through or maybe blaming yourself for having to go through IVF due to your lifestyle, genetics, or various other reasons.
  2. After you have identified your worries, try to examine it realistically and see if its valid or if there’s anything you can do about it.  Have a chat with your doctor, your partner or a close friend.  Get support from your family if you are close to them.  Try not to blame yourself for your past and look positively towards the future.  Try not to take out your anxiety on your partner.  Educate yourself about IVF, what it involves and how it could affect you.  Try to anticipate decisions you might need to make during IVF and discuss this with your partner.
  3. Think of ways to overcome these feelings of anxiety by understanding your triggers and what to do when these thoughts come up.  Temporarily avoid situations that make you anxious like maybe going to a baby shower, or a playground.  Try to put a positive twist on things.  Maybe write down your worries as well as possible solutions or if you can’t find any solutions, learn to let it go.  Give yourself a time limit to ruminate on them.  Once the time is up, don’t think of these things until the next scheduled time you have given towards it.
  4. Look after yourself by exercising regularly, eating healthy, learning to meditate, journal, listen to music, read a good book, go on a date night with your partner or anything else that you enjoy doing.  Don’t isolate yourself and instead meet regularly with your close friends and family.  You could try volunteering as a way to remove the focus from yourself and give back to the community.  Also learn how to reduce your stress by not taking on too much of a workload and learning to say no during this period.
  5. If you feel it’s too overwhelming, get support professionally through a therapist/counsellor, or join an IVF support group.  Know that it’s normal to have anxiety about what you are dealing with and you are not alone in this situation.  Learn to take it one day at a time.  Know that your thoughts can affect your behavior and eventually your own health.

Going through IVF can affect each individual differently and the emotions may run amuck or may be hidden silently.  No matter what the outcome is, know that you have done everything in your power to have a child so that you have no regrets looking back.  If you would like to discuss any of these things, feel free to contact the experts at Xenith Advanced Fertility Centre who are very experienced in helping you go through the IVF experience positively and aid you in your dreams of parenthood.