Finding out that you need help to conceive can feel daunting and is often suffered in silence. Friends, family and colleagues may not be sympathetic, you and your partner may find the stress and anxiety interfere with your relationship. You may both have already gone through tests and investigations that intrude into the most private and intimate areas of your lives. You may have spent hours, weeks or years waiting.
Facing up to infertility requires physical and mental energy, and it is important that both you and your partner prepare yourselves for the emotions that you are going to experience. Some of the most common emotions include: shock, looking for someone to blame, anxiety, depression, anger, despair, loss of control and loneliness. These are all perfectly normal feelings and the majority of couples who undergo assisted reproduction treatments feel the same way.
The Psychological Support Programme at IVI aims to identify your problems and anxieties and to intervene through sessions in which cognitive behavioural therapies and self-control techniques are used with patients. It is designed to overcome and improve symptoms of anxiety and stress and to improve difficulties in communicating with the people close to you (your family, friends and work colleagues) as well as with your medical health-care team. Through this department the couple’s self-esteem is restored and their sex life is improved. To achieve this, it is important to learn how to relax in order to develop psychological and social skills, overcome stress, get to know each other better, and learn how to cope with difficult situations. If you have a positive attitude and you can manage to keep anxiety under control, the success rate of the treatment increases.
Making decisions is an integral part of the infertility experience. Within a couple, the individual who has the specific medical problem can feel under increased pressure when it comes to expressing what they want. It is important that you feel free to do this. Men sometimes feel worried about choosing a type of treatment that requires invasive techniques, such as surgery or daily injections, for their partners. Other couples may find that they have different rules of play regarding the time, effort and money that they are considering dedicating to treatment. At other times, the decision about when to say “enough” can be one of the most difficult things to discuss. We know that in any couple there may be differences of opinion or difficulties in the relationship when faced with a problem. Do not hesitate to ask for advice from our psychologists, who will help you to search for solutions.
There are certain times in day-to-day life which make you feel more depressed and low on resources. If you have prepared yourself emotionally you will find that these occasions can be managed. For this, it is important to remember that you do not have to take part in activities which might depress you. You also need to be prepared for situations which initially seem easy to face, but which at that precise moment become impossible to deal with, for example, taking part in conversations about pregnancy or children, or conversations with pregnant friends during your fertility treatment. Holidays and birthdays may represent an additional source of anxiety because they remind you that time is passing and you do not have children.
Remember that you are on your way to having them. Another difficulty can be visits to doctors. During these you will see pregnant women going for check-ups and you may have to cope with negative test results. You and your partner will consider the possibility of giving up on treatment. Generally speaking, many women experience the beginning of each menstrual cycle as a traumatic event as there is no pregnancy after a month of waiting, and sometimes they question whether it is worth starting all over again yet again. With the aim of facing up to these situations, in IVI’s Psychological Support Department we will help you to build emotional strength and to prepare for these incidents which can occur. Think about these types of situation and ask yourself how you will react. One good form of therapy is talking to people who have experienced the same feelings. You can see how they have coped and what they have done differently to you.