We understand that the IVF journey can be an emotional and stressful journey.
From the moment that you are diagnosed with fertility disorders, both you and your partner may be filled with dismay, denial, sadness, and confusion. It is important to acknowledge that fertility disorders are common, and there is often no explanation for why it occurs. It is important to support each other and to move on together.
Through advancements in the field of ART, there is hope for couples looking to conceive. Thus, it is vital to obtain accurate medical information and to seek the right fertility centre that both you and your partner are comfortable with.
Once you and your partner decide to embark on the IVF journey, you may initially experience a positive range of emotions such as hope, excitement, and possibility. However, there are many steps in the IVF process and during the course of treatment, you and your partner may experience a range of negative emotions including denial, confusion, anger, stress, and isolation.
Find the emotional support you need
Stress management and counselling
Couples undergoing fertility treatment often feel stressed by the experience – you’re not alone. Find a counsellor or a therapist to talk to, or consider attending support groups where you can meet and talk to other couples on a similar journey.
During support sessions, you will be there not just to be supported or to hear how others have coped, but you can give support and strength to other couples who are struggling as well. Knowing that you are not alone and having mutual support will benefit you immensely on your IVF journey. At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, additional counselling by a trained psychologist or a counsellor may be arranged should you feel the need for more support.
During this time, it is important to manage emotional stress to optimise the chances of pregnancy. Studies have shown that chronic stress results in hormonal changes that may interfere with eggs development and pregnancy success rate. Stress may also interfere with the immune system and increase the likelihood of a woman’s body in rejecting an embryo. Talk to your fertility specialist about your emotions and ask for help if necessary.
Letting go of anxiety and self-blame
Couples must realise that no matter how hard they try to become pregnant, no one can guarantee a successful outcome. If you are worried that you will never get pregnant, let those worries go and focus on other aspects of the relationship between you and your partner. While we cannot choose our external circumstances, we can always choose how we feel and respond to it.
Many couples also tend to question or blame themselves. Know that if treatment fails, it doesn't make you a failure. If you are following the recommendations of the professionals and maintaining healthy self-care, you are doing everything you can. The IVF journey is not easy and you are doing your best. Remember to affirm yourself and your partner for that.
Get help from friends and family
Find individuals among your family and friends whom you believe are supportive and understanding, and inform them that you need their help and support during this time. Keep talking to people about how you feel and let them in on your journey. Let them know how they can help you both practically and emotionally.
Role of complementary treatments
Discuss with your doctor should you wish to undergo complementary treatments during the IVF cycle. Acupuncture has been shown in certain studies to improve pregnancy rates when done in conjunction with the IVF cycle. Depending on your doctor’s instructions, it is possible to enjoy other activities in tandem with the treatments, such as massaging to assist in the relaxation, as well as participating in various forms of exercise.
Switching up your nutrition and lifestyle
It is important to establish optimal health prior to embarking on any fertility treatment. A balanced, healthy diet with regular exercise is key to optimising a couple’s chances of success. Women planning for pregnancy should ensure a daily intake of at least 4mg folate, which has been shown to reduce birth defects incidents affecting the brain, spinal cord and heart. Dietary sources rich in folate include a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrain bread and cereals.
Men may require additional supplementation of minerals such as zinc and carnitine. For both men and women, iron and vitamin C are important in reducing the risk of anaemia. Talk to your doctor to understand the required intake of other vitamin and mineral supplements.
The team at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre recommends that both parties should stop smoking and avoid alcohol. Smoking reduces the chances of a successful pregnancy, and may lead to an increased incidence of miscarriage, poorer response to medication prescribed during fertility treatments, damage to sperm DNA, and reduced sperm count.
As the IVF journey may be an extensive and emotionally demanding one, it is essential to help and support each other. Giving up smoking is a great place to start.