The importance of emotional support for successful IVF

Explained by: Andreia Trigo, RN BSc MSc, Enhanced Fertility Programme
Category:
Webinar on emotional support during IVF
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From this video you will find out:
  • What are the NICE and HFEA guidelines for emotional support and counseling?
  • What are the psychological impacts of fertility problems and treatment?
  • The association between treatment status and the average level of distress
  • How can I recognize the symptoms of emotional distress in myself?
  • When and where to seek help?
  • What types of support are available?
 

How crucial is emotional support for IVF success?

In this webinar, Andreia Trigo was talking about emotional support on your fertility journey, stressing how crucial it is for your well-being and successful treatment.

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Questions and Answers from the event

How can I prepare my mind before starting my IVF? This is my first attempt, and I am very nervous and conflicted.

Everything that is a bit unusual to us, and because we haven’t had previous experience with previous cycles can bring us a bit of anxiety and worry and nervousness, so it’s absolutely normal to feel that way. Because we don’t know if it’s going to work or not again, it’s something that tends to make us feel a bit anxious, so number one, know that you’re not alone, and your emotions on this are absolutely expected. Now things that you could do. I would say, start with understanding what you are afraid of. If you write down your fears, you might notice that some of the fears are not real fears, they are hypothetical fears. They might be for example: well, I’m afraid that something in the future is going to happen that hasn’t happened yet, or your fear might be something more practical, what if I go to the clinic and something goes wrong, and this doesn’t have a successful result.

Write down your fears to understand is this a true worry for which there is a real solution or is this a hypothetical worry that doesn’t have any solution. After you’ve written them down I want you to write down everything that you’re doing to challenge that thought, maybe you are doing everything you can, you are eating the right foods, you are doing the right exercises, you have an amazing team, so there’s a big list of things that you’re doing that means that you are doing everything you can, and the chances of it working are the best chances that you could have. So make a list of your fears, all the reasons why this is going to work. Then some of those grounding exercises using your five senses and doing a bit of mindfulness. If you start doing mindfulness, I would say once a day, three to five minutes there’s a lot of mindfulness recordings available on youtube, and that can be very very powerful.

Since I have found out that I will need IVF, this is all I’ve been talking about with my husband and friends etc., it is all I’m thinking about. In the long run, it will not help. Any tips on how to manage that?

I hear this all the time, it’s almost like too consuming, it takes all our day. I would say that it’s important for us to continue doing things that are not related to fertility, so maybe if you schedule a time to talk about these things with your husband, and say for example tomorrow between five and six, we are going to talk about our fertility treatments, and it might be that we are not going to resolve all our issues about fertility treatment or answer all our questions or make all the decisions that we want to make, but we’re going to decide some of them. Then we can schedule another day, another time when we’re going to talk about it again. Leaving the rest of the time for you to have your life back, your life back with yourself, with your husband and with your friends, scheduling time I found has been one of the most powerful strategies for me. Scheduling a time and sometimes even scheduling a place, having places around the house where you don’t talk about fertility treatment. The places that are sacred where you’re just there to enjoy yourself, so I don’t know if it works, but a lot of people have said it has been useful, so I hope it works for you as well.

My worry is that I’m getting increasingly stressed and it seriously affects sleep, and I wake up thinking about problems. It seems to be the case in every step of my journey, there are problems that are completely out of my control, problems with previous cryo careers almost missing the retrieval, problems with donors etc. and the latest problems with descending clinics embryologists packing of our samples for transport, this latest problem might result in us losing our embers from our 12th cycle. We won’t know until they are deposited at the transfer. I can’t believe how many things have gone wrong, the only thing that keeps me going is that the receiving clinic is great as per the amazing embryologist there, so I hope they can save the day. How do I stop thinking, researching everything 24/7, so I can avoid other future issues?

It does seem like a lot of things have happened that shouldn’t have happened, and I’m sorry that you’re going through it. It must have been very stressful for you to go through it. I’m not sure if you are already getting any special one-to-one support because it can be very overwhelming when there are so many things going wrong, and we have the feeling that other things are going to happen that are also wrong. This is what we call in psychology the self-fulfilling prophecy, and the way it works is that when something happens that goes wrong, and we believe that something else is going to happen wrong. Then things end up happening wrongly, and it reinforces the initial belief, then the things continue to go wrong.

There infinitely needs to be a way number one to break the cycle and secondly to learn how to control or respond to these things that you’re not able to control, which I know can be incredibly difficult. I would say that maybe it would be good to have one-to-one sessions to understand how you can break this cycle, how can you differentiate between the things that you can do something about and the things that you can’t do anything about. Is there a way for me to schedule this research process to maybe half an hour a day to look into a certain topic and not to do it 24/7. Is there a way for me to maybe have other people involved that makes it less likely that things will go wrong, so I think there are different approaches that you can have, but I think that the story has is already so complex maybe it would be good to get one-to-one support to try and break that cycle.

I understand how challenging it is to feel that everything is going wrong, I have been there, so I do understand. I think that would probably be the best way to help you break the cycle, so then finally something starts going well and then everything else starts going well for you as well.

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Authors
Andreia Trigo, RN BSc MSc

Andreia Trigo, RN BSc MSc

Andreia Trigo is a multi-awarded nurse consultant, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her medical experience and her own infertility journey, she developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. Her mission is to improve accessibility to fertility care and support worldwide at minimal cost to populations. She is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, the evidence-based programme that improved help for fertility, currently in use by several clinics and patients worldwide.
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Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is an International Patient Coordinator who has been supporting IVF patients for over 2 years. Always eager to help and provide comprehensive information based on her thorough knowledge and experience whether you are just starting or are in the middle of your IVF journey. She’s a customer care specialist with +10 years of experience, worked also in the tourism industry and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. When she’s not taking care of her customers and patients, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things or spending time outdoors.

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