Monday, April 06, 2015

When IVF patients stress about stress

One of the ironies of going through IVF treatment is that you don't want to stress during treatment , as you're afraid it'll lower your chances for success. After all, everyone "knows" that stress is bad for you and reduces fertility, right ? " Relax" is the commonest ( gratuitous) advice which most infertile couples get. However , the truth is that IVF treatment is stressful ! No one enjoys being stressed, but what can you do about it ? Even if your heart knows that stress is not very helpful, how do you explain this to your head, which refuses to listen ?

In fact, worrying that you're stressing out is also stressful. So not only do you get stressed out from your treatment , but from feeling stressed as well ! And all the well-meaning advise from the IVF medical team and your spouse and your family that "you should not take stress" just add to your stress.

Matters get even worse when the treatment is not going well. For example, you may may attribute your poor ovarian response to your stress ( though this is a misconception).

Also, if you have complaints about your treatment, or want to complain about a particular staff member of the IVF clinic, you are scared to do so, as you feel this confrontation will aggravate your stress. This is why a lot of complaints get bottled up, and patients are reluctant to provide feedback which can help the IVF clinic to improve.

The good news is that research has shown that feeling stressed about treatment doesn't affect the chances  of IVF treatment success. A large meta-analysis, conducted by Cardiff University's School of Psychology in England, which included a total of 3,583 women showed that the level of pretreatment anxiety or depression did not affect pregnancy rates. The women with high anxiety were just as likely to conceive during treatment as those with lower anxiety !

In one sense, this is not surprising. After all, no one enjoys coming to an IVF clinic - all IVF patients are stressed out - only to varying degrees, that's all. And while some carry their heart on their shoulders, others are good at managing their emotions, so they can cover up their feelings. The stress is a "normal" response to an "abnormal" situation, so don't make a bad situation worse by beating up on yourself that you are getting stressed out !

This means you don't need to stress about stress. However, don't ignore your stress levels. If you find your stress is causing distress, getting support, finding ways to cope, and seeking counseling are all good paths to take. Lowering your stress will help you feel happier , healthier, and more in control, whether or not you get pregnant.

One way of coping with stress is by arming yourself with information. Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better !

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