Emotional Support - Questions and Answers

Infertility emotional support is an extremely important part of your fertility journey and we now share advice provided by our experts in response to your questions.

Emotional support and infertility

Undergoing any form of fertility treatment can be physically and emotionally draining. It is important that you are prepared for challenges and the rollercoaster of emotions which treatment will create prior, during and after the IVF procedure(s). We have brought together some of the leading providers of emotional support who share some invaluable tips to help you address negative emotions you might experience with effective coping strategies.

Infertility support

The emotional impact of infertility

Infertility can be a silent struggle but there is no reason why it should be.

When you believe that you are experiencing some difficulties conceiving the most important thing you can do is to share and discuss any concerns you may have. This may not need to be with a medic in the first instance, it could be you’re your partner, your friends, your family. The most important thing is to assure yourself that you are not experiencing this alone and that there are always solutions to address any problems you have.

Once you emotionally accept that there might be problem the next step is to identify a suitably qualified individual to talk through your options and the support which is available. Infertility help is available through your medical specialist (General Practitioner or Gynaecologist), via a specialist fertility therapist (reflexologist, acupuncturist, counsellor, therapists etc) or via a dedicated patient support group or association.

Many couples facing fertility issues experience anxiety and psychological distress. These feelings can range from minor depression through to suicidal feelings in extreme cases. These feelings can increase in intensity as individuals and couple progress through treatments and it is common for them to experience feelings of grief and loss when treatments are not successful. Feelings of grief and loss can arise after failed treatments but equally when a woman experiences a miscarriage. According to estimates anywhere between 10% and 25% of clinical pregnancies will result in miscarriage and therefore have the potential to create post-traumatic stress disorders in many women.

The impact of stress and distress on fertility is a much debated one. Some suggest that stress can have a negative impact on the chances of receiving successful IVF treatment whilst others say there is no direct casual link. However, if you are better emotionally and physically prepared for a procedure it will no doubt make the experience that much better even if it does not wholly determine the outcome.

The advice from our experts does however suggest that a healthy mind will help prior, during and after you receive treatment.

The two-week wait

Once the treatment aspect of the IVF procedure is complete you begin the two-week ‘luteal phase’, the time between the embryo transfer and pregnancy test. Quite understandably this is one of the most anxious waits that many of us will have to go through. This period can be made more bearable by considering a number ofstrategies designed to help you cope emotionally. These might involve the following,

  • Avoiding over strenuous activity and stressful situations which could have an impact on the implantation process
  • Be honest. If you have a partner, close friend or family tell them how you would like to use the waiting time – you may want some ‘me’ time or alternatively you may want to resume to some form of normality. Do not feel pressured into doing something that might make you more anxious.
  • Don’t entertain any feelings of guilt. You have done your utmost to get to where you are – treat yourself, undertake an activity you enjoy or find relaxing.
  • Take time to consider how you will respond to the outcome of the treatment; decide in advance what you want to say to those around you and when to say it
  • Don’t be tempted to take an early pregnancy test; let nature take over, stay positive and the wait will be more bearable.

Emotions and coping with failed IVF

The worst case scenario after the two-week wait is that the treatment has not been successful. Coping with the fact that your IVF has failed is devastating. When you have invested so much emotion, time and sometimes money in achieving your ultimate goal and then having it taken away so suddenly, is possibly one of the most difficult things we have to deal with as adults.

The most important thing to remember, however, if you are in this position is that you are not alone. Up to two thirds of IVF treatments are unsuccessful. It will help if you are able to discuss your feelings with others who have been through a similar experience. Consider joining a support group or speaking to a fertility counsellor or coach, share your feelings and don’t suffer in silence.