Effect of IVF and infertility on mental health

IVF mental health impact

It’s common when in the throes of the IVF journey to struggle to cope with a range of different emotions. The IVF mental health impact is real but the good news is you are normal, you are not alone and you can get through it!

IVF is not an easy option. It’s hard, mentally and physically and the IVF mental health impact cannot be underestimated. It’s hard when you know you’re trying but struggling to conceive in the natural way but people say; ‘ it’ll be your turn next’, ‘you’ll be pregnant by next summer’, ‘your Mum wants to be a grandma, better get moving’, ‘it’ll happen when you just relax’.  These are only some of the comments that I’ve heard from friends and family myself on my journey and although it’s well-meaning a little bit of you breaks inside each time.

You go through so many IVF emotions!

FriendPictures of cartoon faces displaying different emotions IVF mental health impacts and family seem to get pregnant without any effort, get pregnant and have a baby in less time that you’ve just been trying. Even people that don’t want children seem to able to have a baby. You look around and all you can see is pregnant ladies or mothers/fathers with babies, knowing that you want this but it isn’t that easy for you.

The green eyed monster takes over. I have been understandably delighted for friends and family and love their babies but at the same time feel jealous, and even angry, that it’s happened to them and not me, jealous and frustrated that they didn’t struggle, jealous that they fell pregnant by accident when they haven’t even been together as long as we’ve been trying, angry that the new babies that aren’t mine are all anyone ever seems to talk about. Then comes the extreme guilt about feeling jealous of, or angry with, the people you love. Some of my friends have struggled with this so much they removed themselves from social media so they don’t receive regular reminders about what they are missing.

As you go through the process you may experience a number of failures before, hopefully, getting success yourself. This is tough. You feel like a failure, you feel bad that you can’t give your partner what they want, frustrated that you have to inject yourself every day, dejected every month that you get a big fat negative. But then there is the hope! The hope and excitement that comes after every egg transfer. The anticipation and nervousness during the two week wait, trepidation as you pee on the stick and the sheer elation of a positive result. Or of course, the heartbreak and utter disappointment of a(nother) negative result. Mix into this emotional roller-coaster all the hormones pumping through you and you can see the problem. It’s like PMT on steroids.

IVF takes over your life.

You have to time your medications to the minute, you are one big bruise from the injections, you have regular clinic visits, you take your supplements, you eat right, exercise, don’t take hot baths, drink alcohol or any other advice you are given to try to nudge the result towards a positive one. Friends and family that you’ve confided in ask you how things are going. You can’t escape it.

Some people find that their relationship becomes strained as IVF takes over conversations and becomes a third partner. Both partners may have a fertility issue, which can throw up all sorts of thoughts and feelings but maybe only one of you has ‘the issue’. This can feel incredibly isolating for that person as they go through feelings of inadequacy, guilt, frustration and more. The worst thing couples can do is to apportion blame for the problems. At the need of the day it’s no-one’s fault and fertility problems are not something we ‘get’ on purpose. It’s important that you have compassion for each other in these testing times. Be kind to each other.

TImage of a pile of money IVF mental health impacthe ‘F’ word

Another aspect that can add a lot of pressure is the ‘F’ word – finances. IVF can be a very expensive process and this can add substantial pressure to a relationship. Plans like those Access Fertility offers are key for a lot of people, giving you more attempts for your money and refund options to help you pay back loans, go on holiday to get over the process or put towards further treatment…if the worst result happens at the end of your treatment plan. Researching options together is so important and compromise is often required.

Don’t be scared, you’ve got this

This blog is not designed to scare those new to the process, or to paint a bleak picture. IVF is incredible and many people leave the process with their little bundle of joy but you need to be informed and prepared for how tough the IVF mental health impact can be. If you are prepared for what you might feel and can get support and coping mechanisms in place before or during your journey then, hopefully, your journey will be a smooth and successful one.

Good luck!

For practical tips on how to get through the tough times, see our other blog here.

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