Friday, February 20, 2015

Infertility Treatment can be Emotionally and Physically Draining

Anyone who has gone through or is going through infertility treatment knows exactly how stressful it can be. You find people you know (friends and family) asking you well-meaning questions about whether you are planning on having kids and some insensitive ones will also want to know whether anything is “wrong” with either of you.

In most instances, infertility is a result of physiological issues and the physical problems could be with either or both. But the fact is that the emotional pain that results from this  can lead to major psychological problems. As a rule, every patient that comes to us for treatment is counseled and made to understand how the entire process works and what the possible outcomes of the treatment can be. Despite this, fertility treatments add emotional and physical stress to the couple.

The Challenges

Since most couples have gone through painful times dealing with their infertility problems, this strains their relationship further. As the cliche goes, Men and from Mars and Women are from Venus, and often communication between the two of you can break down . The husband often feels the wife is not coping well. He feels she should cheer up and hope for the best, rather than break down when her period starts. He feels she should grow up and deal with the problem as a mature adult, who can cope with life's challenges. The wife feels the husband is being insensitive and unempathetic, because he does not understand the heartbreak she is going through. Another factor is that some of the fertility drugs that are prescribed for the woman may cause emotional mood swings & physical side effects. 

Here is a peek into the issues that infertile couples face and the best way they can deal with them.

IVF- The Physical Challenges

The fertility drugs that women have to take to stimulate ovulation can cause certain side-effects These drugs are necessary as they help the eggs mature & prevent premature ovulation. They also help to prepare the lining of the uterus to receive the fertilized embryo/embryos.

Since they are hormones, they may cause hot flashes, mood swings, bloating or weight gain. In some cases they also cause nausea, breast tenderness and headaches. Based on the drugs that have been prescribed, the injections will be administered at different spots and skin irritation at that point is another common complaint. The good news is that these side effects are self limited , and disappear once  the drugs are excreted through the kidneys, into the urine.

IVF- The Psychological Challenges

Though the physical stresses that a patient goes through is no joke, the emotional stresses are equally traumatic. We see that patients who are going through their first cycle are the ones that tend to be the most stressed. To a certain degree, this is because it’s a new medical procedure that they are dealing with for the first time. Even though every attempt is made to keep patients updated about the procedure, they still feel they are doing a tight rope walk when it comes to going through that first cycle.

Once the embryos have been transferred, the waiting period begins; this is when patient’s stress levels peak, as they are eager to know whether they are pregnant or not.  The truth of the matter is that fertility treatment can’t be rushed - you have to live one day at a time !

What adds to the stress levels is the uncertainty about the outcome. Another distinct cause of worry for most patients is the cost factor. Many couples find themselves financially stretched and they are worried about whether they will be able to afford another cycle if the first one fails.

There is Scope to Cope

You can’t really change a situation,  but there are definitely some things you can do which will help you cope better Do your homework & plan ahead. Research and understand everything you can about IVF and get all your doubts clarified and questions answered from your IVF doctor. Being well- informed will give you more control over your feelings. Discuss all the implications ( social, financial or otherwise) with your partner and find a path towards the common goal.

When Counseling can Help

Focus on your relationships as well as yourself ; and find support from close friends. Engross yourself in work or anything else you like to do –it’s the one way of keeping the feeling of depression and isolation at bay. Consider getting help from a therapist or counselor. Understand that you and your partner are going through a difficult time and that you should nourish your relationship with him or her.

Want more information about how IVF works? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you in a better way!

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