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Mental health and IVF

The impacts on mental health

Given the range of challenges, it is not surprising that men and women in this position are more likely to experience depression and/or anxiety.

I had high anxiety during my pregnancy as, not only was my child IVF conceived, she was also a donor egg.  I had concerns about miscarrying due to my age and had experienced light bleeding up until the 13th week of my pregnancy.  I was so afraid something would be wrong with my baby.  At times, I was so tired too and was afraid I might not make it through the birth.

In addition, research shows that the process of assisted reproduction itself is also associated with increased anxiety, depression and stress and can impact on your self-esteem and confidence.  This may particularly be your experience after a failed IVF cycle – making the IVF journey a difficult time.

As well as the emotions that go with a miscarriage, with IVF, there is also a sense that you are right back at the drawing board – which adds a whole lot more to deal with emotionally.

Many hopeful parents describe the experience of trying to have a baby and being unable to, as ‘a silent hell, and experience that leaves scars’.

The exclusion from parent’s club..avoidance of baby showers…crying in my car on the drive home after yet another pregnancy announcement at work..switching over nappy ads on TV.

The effects of infertility is a traumatic experience for many people. It can cause relationship and financial stress, social isolation, obsession and self-criticism.  Over time this can become an ongoing process of coping with these intense emotions, which can impact on your emotional and mental health.

Getting help

Whilst we don’t know exactly whether stress, anxiety or distress is the cause or the effect when experiencing problems with fertility, there is evidence indicating that psychological treatments, such as cognitive behaviour therapy and support can not only improve these conditions but also improve the likelihood of becoming pregnant one year on.

Seeking support from others, particularly others in a similar position, can remind you that you are not alone, as this can be difficult to discuss with your friends or family who have not had the same experiences as you.

For some, it may be important to consider medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety at this time.  There is currently no research evidence to suggest this will negatively affect a woman’s fertility.  Further, if you do become pregnant, it is good to know that there are antidepressant medications which may be safely used in pregnancy.

If you are are experiencing distress, depression or anxiety, there are a range of supportive treatments available under Medicare.