Infertility treatment can be an incredibly stressful journey. There are so many factors that contribute to it. A few examples would be the time that it takes, the loss of work, the costs involved, how your relationships are affected, and the toll the medications can take on your body. There are a lot of things you can do to manage stress during fertility treatment and get yourself through in a calmer frame of mind.
Before You Begin Treatment
Before you start, you may be experiencing a mixture of emotions. The best way to reduce stress during this time is to get yourself prepared for everything and anything that could possibly come up.
The time it will take. Treatments with IVF can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month. Before you start, you should arrange your schedule and plan for all of the clinical visits that you will need to have during this time. You may have to take some time off of work. If you live a good distance away from your clinic you should also consider if traffic will be an issue and how much time travel could take you.
Expenses. The treatment is expensive and you will want to be sure that all of your finances are set to cover it. There may be additional costs for blood tests and the freezing and storage of extra eggs you may choose to save. Your first cycle may not be successful, so you will want to consider how many additional ones you are prepared to pay for.
How you feel about it all. Before you begin treatment you should consider the ethical questions that are going to arise. You may be suitable for a multiple embryo transfer which could result in multiple pregnancy. This majorly increases the risks for a difficult pregnancy and birth. Are you prepared to handle this? You will also be asked if you want to freeze or dispose of your eggs, if there are extra, after the procedure is done. Be prepared for all of these questions beforehand to save yourself the stress of having to make a hasty decision you could end up regretting later.
Your relationships. You will want to be sure to have a strong support network to help you through your treatment. Decide who that is for you, who do you feel you are able to confide in? Keep communication open with this person (or people) at all times to avoid any surprises along the way.
During Your Treatment
Infertility treatment can take a lot out of the body, physically and emotionally. This is where your support system plays a major role. Let them know how they can be the biggest help to you, figure out what is is that you need and don't be afraid to ask for it. Make sure to avoid adding any other big changes into your life at this time, like moving to a new home or starting a new job. Be comforted by the fact that feeling a bit crappy during this time is a normal response and to be expected. Don’t try to shut off your feelings. If you need to cry, do it. Suggested activities for de-stressing include:
- gentle exercise
- relaxation tapes
- taking walks
- bubble baths
After You Have Received Treatment
This part can be the most stressful for people because they are anticipating their results from the procedure. Make sure to plan things to fill up your time so you aren’t just waiting around worrying about it. Continue to practice the de-stressors listed above along with any other activities you particularly enjoy that aren't too physically taxing. Hopefully, your cycle was a successful one. If it did not work, your fertility team will gather the necessary information from the procedure and go about the process differently next time.
There has been some evidence suggesting that stress can have negative effects on fertility. Still, research has found that feeling stressed about treatment will not affect the treatment itself. Preparing yourself to maintain a calm attitude through this time is solely to help you cope and maintain your overall health. Try your best to live in the present and know that you are doing the best that you can do for your future.