Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments improve the possibility of pregnancy and childbirth, offering opportunities for family building to individuals and couples. Some challenges may come with these opportunities, though.
What to Expect: Common Emotional Responses During an IUI and IVF Cycle
Research has shown that patients tend to perceive an IUI or IVF treatment cycle as moderate-to-very stressful. However, it is important to remember that each person will experience the stress differently based upon his or her own personality and life experiences.
- During IVF treatment, it is very common for your mood to fluctuate over the course of the cycle, for both women and men. Feelings of anxiety and distress may increase as the cycle progresses from monitoring to retrieval to transfer.
- For both IUI and IVF treatments, the 2 week waiting period is often felt as the most stressful time during the cycle.
- The first IUI or IVF cycle tends to be the most stressful. Many patients say that subsequent cycles of the same form of treatment feel more manageable.
- Should a treatment cycle be unsuccessful, it is normal to experience feelings of grief, sadness, loss, and disappointment.
Tips for Coping with Your IUI or IVF Treatment Cycle
From humor to a desire to be prepared at every twist and turn, everyone will cope with the stresses and emotions of IUI and IVF treatment differently. SGF encourages their patients to download an app called FertiCalm. This app provides a variety of more than 500 custom coping options for over 50 specific situations that have the potential to cause distress throughout the family building journey. Here are some other tips to help you through this time:
- Prior to starting your cycle, make a list of additional or lingering questions and schedule an appointment to ask your physician or nurse questions and discuss concerns.
- “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Scheduling a counseling session with one of SGF’s social workers will help prepare you for your treatment cycle.
- Meet the SGF Psychological Support Team
- Exercise is one of the best ways to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, but consult your doctor about maintaining your regular exercise routine during a treatment cycle.
- Humor is a great coping mechanism—during your IUI or IVF cycle, plan to see or rent comedy films, watch your favorite comedy TV shows, or read a humorous book.
- Utilize relaxation exercises and mind-body techniques. For example: breathing exercises, guided imagery, meditation, and relaxation apps/CDs/downloads.
- Use cognitive restructuring techniques to identify recurring negative thoughts about the cycle or about infertility, and reframe those thoughts into positive statements.
- Write it down. Research shows that writing about a stressful event can be a therapeutic process and may reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and distress. And remember that no one will be grading you—throw the rules of spelling and punctuation out the window.
- Set aside 20 minutes each day to talk with your partner about the IUI or IVF cycle and limit your infertility talk to those 20 minutes.
- During the 2 week waiting period, plan daily activities you enjoy doing, either by yourself or with your partner, to help fill the time.
- Identify sources of social support you can rely on during the cycle, e.g., friends or co-workers who have experienced infertility or IUI/IVF, internet support sites, or attend a support group.
- Sign up for a free SGF Support Groups
- Think about where you would like to be and who you would like to be with when you find out the results of the cycle.
- Before starting the cycle, identify a plan B with your doctor. The plan may ultimately change, but this will give you something to hold on to should the cycle be unsuccessful.
Try out some of these tips for coping with your IUI or IVF treatment cycle. As the IUI or IVF cycle progresses, allow the treatment to take its course, and focus on ways to reduce feelings of stress and distress.
To learn more about coping with your IUI or IVF treatment cycle or to schedule an appointment with one of our 41 reproductive endocrinologists, please call 1-877-971-7755 or click here to complete this brief online form.
About the Author:
Erica Mindes, Ph.D., LCP is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist on the Counseling Staff at Shady Grove Fertility, and with the practice of Covington & Hafkin and Associates, seeing patients at offices in Northern Virginia and Richmond. She has conducted research and written on the psychological responses to infertility and infertility treatment, and recently co-authored the chapter, “Counseling Known Participants in Third-Party Reproduction” for Fertility Counseling: Clinical Guide and Case Studies. Dr. Mindes is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Mental Health Professional Group (MHPG) and serves on the MHPG Executive Committee.