According to Stats Canada 1 in 6 couples will experience infertility, and many couples struggling with infertility will look for support through In vitro fertilization (IVF). It is now estimated that approximately 1 to 2 percent of live births in Canada are due to IVF.
For anyone who has experienced IVF, they will tell you that the experience is an emotional roller coaster; between the medication, money worries, the waiting, the astronomical amount of pressure and expectations and worries about the outcomes. In addition many women are already struggling with the emotional impact and worry of not being able to have children. In a study of 200 couples, 50% of the women and 15% of the men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. Overall the whole fertility experience takes an emotional toll, and often we remain silent about our experience due to shame and guilt.
From both a professional and personal standpoint, there are a lot of ups and downs during the entire process. However I would have to say the IVF experience just might take the cake! I have had many clients and friends go through the IVF process, but I truly didn’t understand the emotional impact until I went through it myself.
Here are a few strategies to help you better cope emotionally throughout your IVF journey:
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page
Clear and open communication is key! Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling, and give them an opportunity to share the same. Your partner’s role may be seen as relatively easy compared to yours, but make sure you’re both open about how to support each other through the process, and as well as expectations. The hormones can be tough on the body, so don’t hesitate to ask for help or delegate responsibilities. It can also be helpful to talk about things other than IVF and infertility, such as talk about the future (travel, career goals, interests, etc). Don’t let fertility and IVF consume your lives.
Have realistic expectations of yourself
You are not to blame for your infertility. Unfortunately, for many couples the reasons for infertility are unexplained. Try going into IVF with realistic expectations regarding what you can and cannot control. You can control how you manage your stress, take care of your body, take your medication and follow doctor’s instructions, however that’s where it ends. I can’t stress this enough, this is not your fault and whatever the outcome, you are not to blame.
Take time for you
Give yourself permission to do things that are good for you! It’s important to take care of yourself right now. Not only do the distractions of self-care help you take your mind of IVF, self-care can help reduce emotional vulnerabilities. Do things that make you feel good about yourself, whether that’s exercise, being outside, pampering yourself, meditation or even just time to be by yourself with your thoughts. As well, don’t be afraid to say no to obligations or seeing people that don’t “fill your cup”.
Build a community around you
Even though doctors and nurses do a great job at educating you on the process and impacts to your body, the impacts to your emotional and mental self are often left out. Reach out to friends who’ve had IVF to better understand what it was like. Of course everyone’s experience is different, but it does give you some insight on the emotional toll IVF can take.
Also I would highly recommend you consider counselling. For many of my clients, counselling and psychotherapy has proven beneficial for processing and managing the feelings/emotions that arise before, during and after IVF. Strategies derived from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness are very effective in managing some of the thought processes and feelings that you may be struggling with even before you start the process.
No matter what the outcome the experience is life changing. If you are interested in counselling and psychotherapy, book an appointment with our resident therapist. Psychotherapy and Counselling services are available at Bronte Wellness Boutique.