Stress and Infertility – Coping with IVF treatment

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Guest post by Susan Lockhart, PhD, MBA, BScN, Director Clinical Operations – Genesis Fertility Centre

Two weeks ago we discussed stress and infertility. Stress has never conclusively been shown to have a negative impact on the outcome of infertility treatment. However, everyone has experienced stress in their lives and can relate to its negative impact on quality of life. In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment undoubtedly adds to whatever stress one is already experiencing. As you approach that first day of IVF treatment so many questions are swirling in your head: Can I manage the injections? How will I feel during treatment? Will it work? Then, as treatment progresses and more monitoring is done: What will my hormone levels be today? Are my ovaries responding? Will I get to egg retrieval? There are also some physical symptoms that may add to stress levels. For example, some women experience breast tenderness, bloating and headaches. There can also be unpredictable mood swings.

How do you cope with all of this? There actually are several ways to minimize stress experienced during IVF treatment, and , everyone is different in what works for them. The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada provides information on resources such as support groups and counseling. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has a patient education website which has information on stress and infertility. There are also a number of books on the topic of stress reduction. One example is Hopeful Heart, Peaceful Mind: Managing Infertility by Carol Fulwiler Jones.

Here at Genesis, a one hour session with a qualified psychological counselor is available with each IVF cycle. The Genesis nursing team is also experienced in providing support for patients during their entire treatment experience.

There are more holistic ways of coping with stress as well. Some people find acupuncture and massage therapy helpful during their IVF treatment. A Vancouver based clinic can be found at . Simple things like listening to relaxing music or journaling can also help to reduce stress. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a best seller like Lori-Shandle Fox who journalled her infertility experience and wrote Laughing is Conceivable as a result! This may be a bit counter intuitive but aerobic exercise during treatment is very helpful during infertility treatment. Walking (not running) is a great way to “burn off” stress.

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