Tuesday, September 03, 2013

IVF husbands as patient advocates

IVF is complex and expensive treatment . It requires a lot of coordination and the logistics can be difficult to manage. Not only is it financially stressful, it creates a lot of anxiety as well, because the outcome of any IVF cycle is always uncertain . This is why a lot of women going through IVF find it very difficult to manage their life when doing an IVF cycle. Cooking, going to work, commuting, taking the injections, going for scans, waiting to talk to the doctor, waiting for the lab to call with the results, worrying about whether the follicles will grow or not --- an IVF cycle can be nerve-wracking, to say the least !

While it’s true infertility affects a couple , it’s equally true that it’s the woman who bears most of the burden of the IVF treatment . She has the one who has to understand the plan; take the shots; go for scans; ensure that her husband is prepared and ready to provide the sample when needed – and then go through the hell of the two-week waiting period , to find out whether she's pregnant or not.

This can be extremely difficult , and this is why women need a lot of support at this time . While they can get this support from multiple places ( friends; other women who are taking treatment in the IVF clinic; mothers; and online bulletin boards), husbands have an extremely important role to play as well. Unfortunately , most IVF husbands are not engaged or involved in the IVF treatment. Many believe that having a baby is the woman's department – and all they need to do is pay the bills and provide the sperm sample. Many are pretty clueless about the reproductive system and about how IVF works - and they refuse to take any interest in trying to figure out what's happening . Many take a completely detached approach - and many will not even accompany their wife for the scans .  Others will justify their “hands-off” approach by saying – My wife is very capable and competent and can handle everything by herself ! Others will try to immerse themselves in their work, so they have a valid excuse for not participating in the treatment.

It’s true that men are from Mars and women are from Venus , but this kind of detached attitude can just add to the woman’s stress . She starts feeling that her husband doesn't care about her; or about having a baby. She concludes that his attitude means that he’s not bothered about what she has to go through – and she feels even more isolated . Many women will resent their husband’s attitude, but will bottle their anger up, because they do not want to precipitate a crisis.

This is a shame , because there is a lot which IVF husbands can do in order to make their wife’s life easier during the IVF cycle. They need to act as advocates for their wife – not just because they love her, but for purely selfish reasons as well. A woman appreciate the support a loving husband can provide in her time of need – and this attention can make their marriage much stronger ! However, it's not just a question of providing emotional support – something which sadly most men  are not good at providing. There’s a lot of practical stuff which men can do to make the IVF cycle easier.

While women often get emotional when things aren’t going well, men can be much more level-headed. They can take responsibility for organising the logistics ( buying air tickets; booking hotels; taking leave from work; ordering take-out, etc) . While the husband usually has to take responsibility for organizing the financing , by accompanying his wife to the clinic, he can ask questions and clarify her doubts, which she may forget because she is too stressed out to ask.

Most husbands are allergic to doctors and hate going to clinics . They are happy to use any pretext in order to not accompany their wife for her IVF appointments. However , this kind of attitude can actually be harmful , because your wife may feel abandoned and this can cause the marriage to break down . As it is , infertility puts a lot of stress on the marriage - and your wife is likely to interpret your disengagement as proof that you do not love her.

There’s a lot a thoughtful husband can do during the IVF cycle to show his wife that he cares - and he can use a lot of tools in order to make sure that his wife is well-organized and well-prepared to go through the steps of the IVF treatment properly , so that she feels loved and supported . By supporting her , they can maximize their chances of IVF success

If you want to impress your wife by making sure she knows when to take her injections and when to go to the clinic, try out our new free IVF app for android smartphones , MyFertilityDiary 

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