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The Emotional Side of IVF: Emotional Challenges and Triumphs

Psychological Impact of IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) used by fertility clinics. During the procedure, eggs are extracted from a woman’s ovaries and then combined with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized eggs grow to become embryos, which are then transferred into the uterus to implant.

While IVF has been around for many years and has produced many successful outcomes, it’s important to acknowledge the psychological impact of IVF treatment. IVF can be an emotional rollercoaster bringing on feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression for both parties involved.

The Emotional Rollercoaster of IVF

The emotional challenges couples may face with infertility and the decision to pursue IVF treatment can only be understood by those who have experienced the process themselves. It is important to note that IVF has varying levels of treatment and the psychological effects of IVF treatment differ for everyone. Couples undergoing IVF treatment may feel anger, despair, frustration, sadness, guilt, jealousy, excitement, hope, and/or happiness.

It is common for both the male and female to experience depression, anxiety, and stress prior to treatment commencing. These emotions can be heightened after a failed attempt with IVF. Even after couples receive a successful outcome, it’s common to still feel anxious or stressed during the course of the pregnancy as couples hope for an uncomplicated birth.

Coping with the IVF Process

Some of the coping strategies that couples may find effective in navigating the physical and emotional demands of IVF treatment can include using open communication, relying on support systems, and paying close attention to their own mental well-being.

The most important coping mechanism is being prepared. It’s important to understand the IVF treatment plan and how it can physically and emotionally affect both parties involved. Communicating with your partner and medical team can help make the IVF process more manageable. This form of open communication can also be shared with close family and friends or a “support circle” of people who have or are experiencing IVF treatment.

Decision-Making and the Psychological Impact

Just as no two pregnancies are the same, no two IVF treatment plans are the same. Each person involved experiences various physical, mental, and emotional effects that differ from others, even their partner.

Choosing to undergo IVF is a big decision, and not one that couples often take lightly. Making such an impactful decision can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. This is especially true when the IVF treatment itself becomes a moral and religious question. To add to this, the number of embryos to be transferred, number to be disposed of, and if a donor is to be introduced are also part of the decision-making process.

The Two-Week Wait

Once the final step of the IVF treatment is completed, the outcome can take up to 14 days to be revealed. The 10-14-day waiting period couples face can create new challenges such as anxiety, fear, and hope. It is also usually at this time that the couple are no longer in daily contact with their medical support team, which can lead to feelings of isolation.

Coping with IVF Failure

IVF failure and grief are real for every couple who has ever experienced a failed IVF treatment. The psychological impact cannot fully be comprehended as it is reported that nearly 95% of women and 64% of men experience depression after the first round of IVF failure.

IVF failure can occur during various stages of the treatment, including the egg retrieval, fertilization, blastocyst stage, genetic testing, or implantation. An IVF treatment can also result in a miscarriage. Each of these scenarios can lead to anger or jealousy of friends/family who are able to conceive naturally. It is crucial that each person involved in the IVF treatment acknowledge their feelings and seek support in dealing with the intense feelings.

The Impact on Relationships

IVF treatment can have a significant impact on a couple’s relationship with each other. The immense pressure one or both parties take on during the treatment process can cause strain on the relationship. From guilt on the partner who is infertile to the reaction one partner may have in a case of a miscarriage, mental anguish is present.

Psychological Support and Counselling

Professional counselling and psychological support are a vital part of a couple’s infertility journey. Before, during, and after IVF treatments, many couples are faced with a myriad of emotional and physical stressors that can affect the outcome of treatment. These issues can involve the deep emotions of anger, jealousy, guilt, frustration, and embarrassment which can be expressed in personal and business relationships outside of the IVF treatment clinic.

Long-Term Psychological Effects

IVF treatment involves deep emotions that can have long-term psychological effects on a couple. Research has shown that even after 20 years has passed since the IVF treatment, some couples still show signs of anxiety and depression from the experience. While the emotional impacts of IVF differ with those who had successful treatments to those who remain childless, the outcome in terms of mental health issues were similar.

ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo Offers Customized Infertility Treatment Plans

The compassionate medical team at ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo offers personal counselling services for both parties during the infertility journey. We understand the financial, emotional, physical, and mental effects infertility has on the person receiving treatment and their partner. Call us at (519) 650-0011today to book a consultation with one of our fertility specialists. On this journey of infertility, you are never alone.


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Kitchener, ON
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