Sunday, February 16, 2014

When IVF patients have Unrealistic Expectations

An IVF cycle is often last resort for most infertile couples. They have tried every other treatment procedure  ( often multiple times, with many different doctors), and these have all failed. All their hopes ride on this treatment. The couple invests a lot of physical, emotional and financial resources into doing  IVF. They want it to succeed , which makes them extremely anxious about the outcome. This in turn leads to unrealistic expectations.

The patient ( and her relatives ) start day dreaming about the pregnancy and her future baby. They are not ready to accept the possibility of the procedure failing. In this situation , if the cycle fails the patient is unable to handle the stress. The couple is pushed into deep grief , from which they are unable to bounce back as they never thought this would happen. The false hope that IVF is a foolproof treatment is shattered, leaving the couple devastated. They start blaming the doctor or the test tube baby center and will often seek out a newer ( and hopefully, better !) IVF clinic.

The reason for this is that patients have insufficient and incomplete information about the procedure. They do not have a complete understanding of the method involved, and the factors that may affect the outcome and the success rates. Some doctors often encourage this behavior by providing limited information and quoting false success rates . They tend to highlight only the positive aspects of IVF and conveniently ignore the possibility of failure. Because they want to "grab" the patient, they sweet talk her into signing up, and are very encouraging . They present unrealistic success figures to lure patients. This is helpful for them , as IVF is a financially remunerative treatment. However, if the patient fails to conceive after the treatment, they abandon the patient, who then feels cheated.

Some of them may drop the idea of continuing with next cycle while a few others visit other test tube baby centers. These doctors often play a game of oneupmanship and fuel the patient’s doubts about the first doctor. They point out flaws in the earlier doctor’s ways of treatment, medication or investigations. Patients start thinking that the earlier doctor was incompetent and that the quality of their treatment was poor. They are happy to sign up with the new doctor, but another failed IVF cycle leads to another round of the blame game.

To avoid all these problems , it is important that the patient keeps an open mind before going for IVF. They need to accept that there is a chance that the procedure might fail. This will help them deal with the stress of a possible failure in a better way. Test tube baby centers need to counsel patients properly , so they have realistic expectations of IVF outcomes before the patient chooses to go in for treatment. 

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