While in vitro fertilization (IVF) has created opportunities for infertility patients to have a biological child, it has also produced some significant challenges. It is stressful, often the last hope, and a gamble. IVF is considered by patients to be the most stressful of all infertility treatments. Patients have rated the stress of undergoing IVF as more stressful than, or almost as stressful as any other major life event – such as the death of a family member, separation or divorce.
Many couples enter an IVF program after several years of unsuccessful testing and treatment, often at tremendous emotional cost. IVF can be a gamble, where the stakes are high and the chance of winning is extremely low. Like gamblers, IVF patients’ expectations may be unrealistic. On the one hand, they may be certain that the IVF will be successful; on the other, they may be convinced the procedure will fail but feel compelled to try one last time. Like compulsive gamblers, they find it difficult to stop, for a great deal has already been invested physically, emotionally, and financially in the quest to have a biological child.
An analogy can be drawn between IVF and the Grand Prix car race, where a long and dangerous drive over the mountainous terrain may result in winning the “big prize.” If you are considering IVF or are currently an IVF patient, it may be useful to prepare for this treatment with the same planning and conditioning as if you were entering the Grand Prix. You need to take the opportunity to refill your “emotional” gas tank and get in the best possible shape before beginning the IVF race.
This is the first installment in a series of articles entitled “The IVF Race.” Read the rest of the articles in this series for suggestions in helping you finish the IVF race feeling like a champion, no matter where you place.