Going through IVF treatment can be a highly challenging and stressful experience. For patients, it can be a physically and emotionally demanding time and for partners it can be extremely tough to see a loved-one go through the experience.
In contrast to the minefield of information that exists on how to prepare for fertility treatment there is limited advice on how to deal with a cycle that is unsuccessful, and as a result it can be an upsetting and hopeless time for many people. Research has shown that 90% of fertility patients experience symptoms of depression or anxiety relating to their fertility problems.
As overwhelming as your situation may seem at times, there are ways to reduce your anxiety. We talked to HSFC counsellor, Mollie Graneek, to find out which coping strategies really work.
If you feel that no one can possibly understand what you are going through, consider joining a support group for women or couples coping with infertility. In these groups, you will be able to share your experiences with others and learn from their experiences too. You may find hearing their stories can help you find new solutions to current problems.
Alternatively, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and Fertility Network are great online sources of support. HFEA has recently re-launched a new website and has a whole host of articles on why it is important to not only look after your physical health, but emotional health as well.
Don’t isolate yourself
Many women I counsel who are struggling with fertility also struggle with social situations. Infertility can cause friction in friendships, especially if you feel they can’t relate to what you’re going through. You shouldn’t feel bad because you can’t bring yourself to attend a friend’s baby shower or child’s birthday party, your friends should understand.
Communicate with your partner
Talking is more important than ever during fertility treatment, even if it’s hard because of the anxieties and emotions involved. Treatment can be incredibly emotionally draining and will test even the strongest of relationships, so it is very important that you support each other throughout the course of IVF and still do regular things together, such as going out for dinner, a trip to the cinema etc. Remember that each one of you is coping the best way you know how.
Identify and share your feelings
If you’re always putting on a brave front, others won’t understand what you’re going through, and you’ll feel even more alone. It helps to have people around who can help answer your questions, be sensitive to your feelings, and understand your fears and concerns.
If you are not ready to share your feelings with family and friends, perhaps start by writing them down in a journal first. Research shows that writing about a stressful event can be a therapeutic process and may reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and distress.
Don’t blame yourself
Resist the temptation to get angry with yourself. Infertility is more common than you may think, in fact, one in six couples struggle to conceive. It’s equally likely to be caused by the female or male partner and in some cases, it’s caused by both. Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up over something that’s out of your control.
Mollie Graneek is a fully qualified professional counsellor with a particular interest in assisted reproduction and donor conception. She is on hand to offer counselling sessions to all Harley Street Fertility Clinic patients when required. For more information on HSFC counselling sessions visit: https://hsfc.org.uk/ or call 020 7436 6838.