By: 30 May 2024
Managing the challenges and facing adversity along the IVF journey

The journey to parenthood is fraught with highs and lows so it’s important for couples to be prepared for the reality of IVF

Intro vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment is often a strenuous and emotional journey for all involved. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and success rates vary depending on the couple and their circumstances. When undergoing IVF treatment, it is important for patients to consider the psychological aspects of their endeavour before embarking on their IVF journey.

Patients must ensure they have the right systems in place to protect their mental wellbeing and help process the range of emotions experienced through this journey.

“With so much time, hope, and financial commitment being made towards IVF, the prospect of things going amiss can feel overwhelming for many patients” according to James Barr, Managing Director of Bridge Clinic London.

Barr continues: “The emotional scars left behind by ‘unsuccessful’ treatment processes can be long-lasting. A mistake many patients can make is comparing their progress to other people who are on the same path or have seen successful results. Every journey is different and so this mindset can often lead to couples responding particularly negatively when things don’t work out as they had originally planned.

“There are many variables which contribute to the outcome of IVF treatment – age, health, lifestyle and so much more. Whilst undergoing their IVF journey, it is important for couples to educate themselves on best practices, what to expect, and to not become distracted by the success or progress of others.”

Struggling to conceive and questions of self-doubt often follow unsuccessful rounds of treatment and can contribute to the growth of a harmful mindset in the long term. However, there are factors beyond anybody’s control which can make IVF complex.

“Patients can take positive steps of their own accord to increase the likelihood of conceiving, such as making lifestyle adjustments but there remain elements which cannot be controlled by the patients and the treatment provider. While it doesn’t diminish the pain of loss, understanding this can situate the experience within a broader context of human reproduction.”

“For example, couples who opt for IVF partners with the infrastructure in place to only select high-grade embryos can boost the chances of success but again, there is no guarantee on the quality of the embryo.

“Alternatively, age is another factor beyond the patient’s control and while the use of donor eggs can be an effective measure to counteract the restraints facing older couples, it’s important to manage expectations as the chance of conception begins to decline as we get older.”

Doubts around the IVF journey can begin when met with bad news, derailing the process and the family’s morale. Choosing the right IVF partner is an early but crucial step to consider for all couples.

“Couples who do their research prior to committing with a provider will feel more comfortable with their decision as the journey takes off, knowing that their chosen provider can accommodate all needs with state-of-the-art embryo management systems but are also transparent with costs and outcomes.

“The support that they provide, physically and psychologically, will also be vital to safeguarding mental wellness. Post-cycle reviews with fertility doctors and accessing counselling makes the journey clearer for couples to understand why a cycle has failed and access the necessary support in the wake of bad news.

“These are small, yet effective steps couples can take beforehand to not only improve the odds, but also protect the mental impact in the face of adversity. In doing so, couples can make important gains to maximise conceiving and protect themselves from the emotional intensity if results aren’t what they hoped for.”

Barr concludes: “For couples undergoing IVF, hardship is unfortunately commonplace. Ensuring expectations are managed and understanding that there is no guarantee can be hard to accept – especially when considering that there will be factors which cannot be controlled.

“Taking proactive steps to protect mental wellbeing will go a long way in helping many couples through the arduous experience of starting a family, and that starts within the safety of a trustworthy clinic and understanding consulting team.”

Image: Canva

Source: London Bridge Clinic