Infertility Goes Beyond The Physical
The struggle with getting pregnant continues to be one of the biggest challenges today. Infertility continues to affect millions of individuals and couples every year. Couples who try to conceive for at least 12 months without success may be infertile. Furthermore, statistics show that men and women have infertility difficulties at the same rates. Infertility is not just an underlying physical issue. The psychological impact of fertility must also be acknowledged. In some studies, 56% of infertile women reported depression and 76% reported anxiety over the diagnosis. The struggle can strain relationships, affect work, and add stress to finances. Despite the physical and emotional challenges, there are treatment options like IVF available.
Can psychological stress also impact IVF treatment?
Some couples take the significant step of fertility treatment in the form of in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is one of the most effective forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) today. IVF involves using sperm and egg samples to create several embryos in a fertility lab. One or more embryos are then surgically implanted into the uterus. The IVF process can be physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally taxing. Surprisingly, most studies find no definite correlation between stress and IVF outcomes. However, the added uncertainty and precise process can be daunting. Use these 4 tips to manage stress and anxiety during IVF.
1. Focus on self-care
IVF requires an extensive time commitment from the couple. Couples can forget to practice self-care between doctor visits, tests, fertility prescriptions, and waiting on results. Take some time to relax every day by connecting with friends or loved ones. Sleep is another vital self-care tool, as poor rest can increase stress levels. Other helpful self-care tools include practicing meditation, journaling, and connecting with nature.
2. Try some acupuncture
Acupuncture is a tried and tested method for reducing stress, especially for IVF patients. This ancient Chinese technique uses needles at specific nerve and pressure points. These needles help relieve pain, improve metabolic function, and boost healing. While most doctors recommend acupuncture for pain relief, studies show benefits for stress and anxiety. In addition, the process can help trigger endorphins while reducing excess cortisol. Some reproductive specialists even recommend acupuncture leading up to IVF implantation to help with blood flow and rebalancing hormones.
3. Can information reduce stress?
Stress and anxiety build from a lack of information. IVF is not a perfect procedure, and the first cycle can fail. However, some different tests and techniques can increase the success rate of IVF. Understanding the process as best as possible can help create a smooth, stress-free cycle. Read up on each step in the process and how the body responds to the medication. Take birthing classes or maximize counseling sessions provided by the clinic. A patient who knows what’s happening at every step can feel more at ease.
4. Talk it out
The goal is not to avoid stress and anxiety but to effectively manage these emotions. These are inevitable feelings and should not be discounted. Patients struggling to deal with stress should get support through talk therapy. A therapist can help patients to manage feelings in the moment. Joining a support group of others who have gone through the process can also help. Patients who notice that others feel the same way can feel supported. Don’t be afraid to share concerns or ask questions in these sessions.
A brighter future
Infertility can be a difficult, distressing diagnosis. Couples eager to start or grow a family can feel sad, depressed, or even angry. These emotions can even affect physical health, causing a cycle that reduces the chances of pregnancy. Despite these challenges, IVF remains one of the best options for infertile couples. During IVF, use these steps to manage stress, which may improve the outcome for each cycle. In addition, doctors will encourage patients to stay optimistic as IVF has continually high success rates.