IVF treatment is definitely a stressful and intense period in life for patients. They invest a lot of their precious time, money and psychological capital into treatment which – unfortunately – works the first time only in a minority of cases. For many, it is a long struggle full of loss – from failed attempts, through negative pregnancy tests, to miscarriages. No wonder it is said that going through fertility treatment unsuccessfully can feel equal to going through chemotherapy – they’re just at the same level of depression.
It is crucial to remember that every infertility case is different and while some patients may need only one IVF cycle to get pregnant, others (and there are more of them!) will have to go through several attempts to realise their dream of parenthood. Fertility treatment can be unpredictable and it is extremely important to be prepared both mentally and physically for everything it entails.
The rollercoaster of emotions
Infertility diagnosis and IVF treatment always take emotional toll on patients. A lot of them perceive infertility as a loss, and processing loss is painful and emotionally gruelling. The famous “five stages of grief” (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) perfectly map out the journey fertility patients have to go through – and emotional distress rarely ends even after a successful pregnancy. It is especially true for patients who undergo egg/sperm donation treatment. They cannot stop asking themselves questions such as e.g.“will my child be disappointed when they learn the truth” or “what will be my feelings towards my baby”. All these doubts and uncertainties are highly confusing and lead to even more challenges and concerns.
Patients under stress typically have physical symptoms such as e.g. insomnia, headaches, fatigue or gastrointestinal symptoms. They also experience irritability, worry, sadness, hopelessness, confusion and anger. If these symptoms continue, they may even result in health-related problems, like an increased risk of hypertension or decreased immune function. And although all of this is perfectly understandable and common on such an emotionally-demanding journey, it is also crucial for IVF patients to take care of themselves mentally. One should always try to figure out their feelings first and deal with them before taking on even more challenges related to IVF treatment.
Infertility is a brutal roller coaster of emotions and – unfortunately – it may have a destroying effecton the relationships with a partner, family and friends.