Stress and IVF
Reducing stress during an ivf effort.
The diagnosis of infertility is a stressful situation, in other words it can create excessive stress. An attempt at in vitro fertilization is a very stressful process. The friendly advice of the gynecologist at the end of the visit is: “Relax and everything will be fine!” That phrase burdens the woman with extra weight and responsibility for the stress she feels. Also find out what you need for in vitro fertilizationand here.
How can we manage stress while in an ivf procedure?
Everything we need to know about it, so that at the time of diagnosis we act with proper – effective treatment of anxiety:
- Recognition of symptoms
- Psychosomatic symptoms of stress during an IVF attempt.
- Ways to feel better.
- Research-proven and appropriate therapeutic interventions for the treatment of anxiety.
What is stress?
It is an absolutely necessary function of our body in order to survive.
For example, when we want to cross the road, our body is in a state of alertness – healthy stress, so that we are ready to realize if we are in danger from a car and move away. Once we are safe, this “alarm system” stops, and we are back in a calm state, in which we do not worry. But keep in mind that our lifestyle keeps us constantly awake, and how difficult it is for our bodies to function properly.
How do we understand (diagnosis) that we are stressed during the IVF procedure?
The most common symptom of excessive stress is usually the difficulty in breathing or perhaps a feeling of heaviness in the chest. But infertility anxiety has many different ways in which it occurs, and it may not have even crossed our minds that this is the case.
What we recognize as stress and specifically in ivf, are the physical symptoms:
Increased heart rate
However, the stress during an IVF procedure can change our behavior:
Changes in appetite and sleep
Reduction of performance at work
Difficulties in communicating with those around us
Increased unhealthy behaviors or habits (eg smoking, alcohol)
Sense of impatience and haste
And of course all this during IVF, is related to our way of thinking, which does not remain unaffected (anxiety).
Difficulties in concentration and attention
Feeling of loss of control
Chronic and generalized anxiety
And finally what remains very well imprinted on the route regarding IVF is
- Sadness, grief
- Sense of isolation
- Low self-esteem
From the diagnosis and throughout the subsequent process, the constant alternations of hope – frustration lead the woman to emotional exhaustion.
What can we do to feel better after being diagnosed and to treat stress?
Research on stress and infertility has shown that increasing resistance to negative emotions is a powerful weapon in a woman’s hands, in order to diagnose and treat stress.
How is it achieved?
First, we become aware.
We need to be aware of the possible difficulties that may arise at each step separately. For example, there may be a poor response to drugs, so fertilization or implantation may not be achieved. We keep in mind all the possibilities. Caution! Practice does not lead to the conclusion “be prepared for the worst”. It is a thought to avoid. Science claims that focusing on the worst case scenario increases the IVF stress we feel in the present and does not in any way improve how we feel in the future.
In addition, we change the way we think.
The journey to infertility is long, full of worries, anxiety, “must-mustn’t”. It is important and entirely possible to reduce their impact on our lives.
Practical ways to achieve it:
A. We recognize what we can control over and what we cannot.
While we have organized the rest of our lives and have made routines, we know what to expect e.g. going to work, meeting friends, or the needs of our home. Infertility is a difficulty over which we can not have the control we would like and so, during IVF stress prevails.
B. We continue the rest of our lives.
And how easy is it for a woman to forget about infertility while she has to deal with it every day, maybe several times a day (with medication, ultrasound, blood tests, etc.)? However, for stress management we know that focus shifting is a technique that helps the mind feel better.
In practice, we need to remember what we did and what gave us pleasure and satisfaction (for example, a walk in nature, physical exercise, meditation or reading a book) and put them back into our routine.
C. We stay away from the worst case scenarios.
It is part of our human nature to try to predict what will happen. However, we know that letting the mind bring back negative thoughts and think the worst possible scenarios increases stress and reduces the quality of life during an IVF procedure.
So, when we think the worst has come, let’s try to replace those thoughts with more realistic ones. The prism from which we see events shapes the way we perceive them.
D. We focus on the present.
The past has passed and the future has not come. The present is all we have so to take care of ourselves, to live (with the good and the bad). Every time we catch ourselves having gone from the here and now, to worries
about the future or memories of the past, we recognize it and bring our attention and care back to the present.
E. And finally, beyond the awareness and the change in the way of thinking we do not forget to take care of ourselves.
The little things we do to take care of ourselves. Our body and mind. A hot bath, a massage from our partner, to have a drink we enjoy, a walk in the sun or the sea, to keep a diary of our thoughts, to practice mindfulness meditation. We add to our daily routine small activities that we consider care for us. Also read about the Causes of Infertility in this useful article.
In any case, if you have difficulty in IVF to manage the symptoms of stress and the way they appear in your daily life by yourself, keep in mind that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and stress reduction interventions through mindfulness are the treatments suggested by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Also read a related article on our site entitled Social Media and Infertility and learn about everything.
Stress is part of our lives. We can not eliminate it.
But we can live in harmony with it.
By Rozina Palaiologou, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Psychologist