During fertility treatments, the body goes through a lot, which can also impact the mind. When individuals choose to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other fertility treatments, their mental and emotional health is often neglected in the process of preparing for the physical and financial aspects. In your fertility journey, neglecting your mental health can be easy, but read on to learn how to care for yourself during the process.
A 2021 study found that fertility concerns can cause couples a tremendous amount of emotional turmoil.
This isn’t surprising: You have a lot on your plate: psychological stress and anxiety about an unknown future; the stress of relationships with partners, family, and colleagues; and the financial strain.
When we are stressed, we can experience a variety of emotions. It’s normal to feel depressed, anxious, and irritable. During fertility treatment, you may experience the following emotions:
Infertility Treatment and Mental Health
Due to the many highs and lows that occur during the IVF process, it’s often called the ‘IVF roller coaster’. You might experience stress, depression, and anxiety even if you have dealt with stressful times before. Moreover, you may be required to make tough choices that have a physical, psychological, and even a moral impact on you and your partner.
On your journey to parenthood, taking care of your mental health is one of the most important things you can do. As both of you may be dealing with challenges at the same time, it’s important to develop a support system outside your partner but also within your partner so that you can both get the care you need. The development of coping skills and healthy communication patterns with your partner during times of stress has been shown to positively impact couples following infertility treatment.
Anxiety is perhaps the most common mental health condition associated with infertility or IVF treatments. Anxiety is a state of overwhelming dread that may manifest itself as persistent worry, trembling of the muscles, and restlessness. Since fertility treatment involves a lot of waiting, anxiety is a common problem. In many cases, the wait between embryo transfer and delivery of pregnancy test results causes the greatest level of anxiety in patients.
When a patient receives a positive pregnancy test result, this anticipatory anxiety often dissipates. However, some patients report anxiety that lasts well into their pregnancy or even afterward. After facing difficulties during treatment, patients are thought to be stuck in a mindset of “not wanting to get their hopes up.”.
Medical anxiety is also common among patients undergoing fertility treatment such as IVF. Despite being non-invasive, many fertility treatments involve new procedures and a new team of medical professionals. Some may feel exposed and vulnerable when entering this new environment. It’s crucial to choose a fertility team that makes you feel comfortable and supported. That’s why Shukan IVF Center is the best choice for your treatment.
Depression is another common mental health condition among fertility treatment patients. Depression is characterized by persistent and severe low moods. Besides sadness, depression can also manifest as a lack of interest, irritability, sleep problems, appetite loss, and sluggish thinking and movement.
IVF is a series of highs and lows, as we mentioned above. The patient may go through multiple failures of IVF or experience a miscarriage, resulting in a depressive period. This may be the result of grief and mourning the loss of your imagined family. The longer treatment continues, the more likely it is to lead to depressive episodes. These lows and depressive episodes are often more important reasons for patients to give up IVF than financial or medical issues.
Fertility treatment may make you irritable and angry. It is possible that medical procedures will leave you feeling vulnerable, exposed, and helpless. Your irritability and anger may be fuelled by these feelings.
There may be times when you feel like life isn’t fair to you. Feelings of intense emotion may overwhelm you when you see others reaching milestones that seem so distant to you.
Despite jealousy being a painful emotion, it is a signal of what you value most. It is important to acknowledge the feelings and understand the underlying issues in order to manage these difficult emotions.
Fertility treatments can sometimes result in loss and mourning. There is a possibility of miscarriage or failed IVF cycles. It is possible to mourn the loss of your imagined family, or even that of being related if donor eggs, sperm, or embryos are used. Losses aren’t always visible to others, which may make them more difficult to cope with.
Feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, jealousy, and grief can make you feel isolated and alone during fertility treatments. When you are receiving fertility treatment, you may feel that the intense feelings you experience are permanent. According to Research, anxiety, depression, and irritability aren’t just psychological symptoms. Treatments for infertility such as clomiphene, leuprolide, and gonadotropins may cause anxiety, depression, and irritability.
The impact of these feelings on both partners
Researchers reported in a 2012 study that both men and women desire children with similar intensity, although infertility care focuses more on women.
In the study, 62 percent of men reported that their desire to have children was the same as that of their partner, and 8 percent felt that they had a stronger desire than their partner.
Thus, it is not surprising that both women and men are affected similarly by fertility treatment:
- Depression. An analysis of 352 women and 274 men undergoing fertility treatment in California in 2016 found that 56.5% and 32.1%, respectively, reported symptoms of depression.
- Anxiety. According to the same study, 75.9 percent of women and 60.6
percent of men suffered from anxiety symptoms.
Irritability, jealousy, grief, and isolation can also be experienced equally by both partners.
Ways To Improve Emotional and Mental Health During Fertility Treatment
There is no doubt that fertility care can be an exciting chapter in your life, but it is not uncommon to experience challenging emotions during the process as well. Stress can not only affect your mental health, but also your physical health, or make it more difficult to conceive. Here are a few self-care tips that can be helpful now and in the years to come, to make the journey easier.
The importance of self-care during fertility treatment
The concept of self-care can be viewed as a bit broad, mainly focused on pampering yourself. Self-care can be divided into two categories: self-care and self-soothing.
During times of distress, self-soothing activities provide comfort and distraction. Watching your favorite TV show or spending time in nature, taking bubble baths, and the like. In order to maintain our well-being, we need to engage in self-soothing activities. We tend to overrepresent them in what we normally consider self-care.
On the other hand, self-care activities care for your health and well-being now and in the future. A few examples of this include eating well, exercising, and taking charge of your finances. Self-care can sometimes seem like a chore, and it’s the last thing you want to do when you’re stressed. Ultimately, these activities will help you ground yourself and grow.
It is certainly possible for self-soothing and self-care activities to overlap. Additionally, they can differ greatly from person to person! It is extremely helpful to take time to identify what activities you enjoy and needs to do that fall under the umbrella of self-soothing and self-care. When you find yourself in emotional distress, you’ll already know what to do to protect and improve your mental health.
Benefits of Mind-Body Practices for Fertility
The use of mind-body medicine, which promotes the connection between mental and physical health, can improve quality of life, pregnancy rates, and emotional well-being while reducing stress. The following practices may reduce anxiety scores significantly in women undergoing fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF):
- Acupuncture: As part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture stimulates specific points in the body to balance energy. Through deep relaxation and emotional release, acupuncture may benefit fertility by improving health and well-being.
- Meditation: Meditation may benefit relaxation by helping the mind to become calmer, more relaxed, and more focused. In addition, you may want to try mindfulness, which involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. The use of this therapeutic tool can help women and couples cope with the stress of infertility and fertility treatments.
- Yoga: The practice of yoga is used for healing purposes, blending physical postures and breathing exercises into a meditative, relaxing experience. Yoga has been found to reduce anxiety and depression and enhance the fertility-related quality of life. As an added benefit, yoga’s gentle exercise can also support your fertility journey physically.
Infertility May Be Improved by Being Creative
With creative efforts incorporated into mind-body practices, you can improve your fertility. Using expressive writing exercises, such as journaling or blogging, may help reduce depression rates associated with IVF. In addition to helping you express and process difficult emotions, they may also help you connect with others who are experiencing infertility.
In addition, you may find that engaging in creative works – such as art, music, dance, or acting – is therapeutic and may help you express and process emotions. The use of art therapies may help infertile women cope with stress, anxiety, and hopelessness better.
Consider Therapy for Your Fertility Concerns
It has been shown that psychological interventions can improve fertility and pregnancy chances. For egg donation, many clinics and agencies require donors and recipients to undergo psychological counseling first.
In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you replace negative or unhelpful thought and behavior patterns, such as anxiety caused by infertility, with more positive, realistic ones. There is evidence that CBT improves pregnancy rates and reduces depression and anxiety.
Infertility can lead to feelings of isolation, which can increase depression and hopelessness. It may be beneficial for you to participate in group therapy, in which people with similar problems meet to discuss their problems and concerns, under the guidance of a certified counselor.
Feed Your Mental & Emotional Wellness
In the same way that our bodies are deeply connected to our minds, nurturing your physical health can significantly improve your mental and emotional well-being. During infertility and fertility care, there are several ways to feed your body that can simultaneously improve your outlook and reduce stress. In addition to a fertility-forward diet and nutrition, you can also consider taking supplements to support your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. A variety of supplements and kits are also available that are specifically designed to help support reproductive health.
It is important to constantly take care of your emotional and mental well-being regardless of your fertility path. Feel free to contact the Shukan IVF Center with any questions or concerns you may have.
The bottom line
During fertility treatments, you may experience a variety of emotions. Whatever you are feeling is OK. Mediation, journaling, and participating in activities that bring you joy are just a few suggestions for relieving some stress.
Help is available if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or other difficult emotions. It may be helpful to talk to your partner, doctor, other healthcare professionals, or a mental health professional about your feelings.
There is no need to go through this alone.
We are here to help you
We are here to make your journey memorable, joyful, and fearless till a healthy baby comes into your lap.