Stress is often described as feeling pressured and overwhelmed. When under stress people often describe finding it difficult to relax, and feeling agitated and irritable. The experience of infertility and IVF has been described by people as being as stressful as any other traumatic life event, including divorce and cancer. The aspects that are stressful for patients and their partners are extensive, and include: the experience of infertility prior to treatment, the rigors of treatment itself, the financial cost of treatment, dealing with medical staff and unfamiliar clinic environments, difficult decisions about treatment options, cancelled treatment cycles, waiting for pregnancy results, the grief of treatment failure, and deciding when to stop treatment.
While the stress of IVF treatment is a given, people experience the stress of IVF differently depending on their personality, their life experiences, and their coping styles.
Despite the stressful experience of infertility and IVF it is important to note that there is no conclusive research evidence that stress levels impact treatment outcome. What is clear however, is that managing stress levels and keeping stress as low as possible benefits your well-being and your mood, as well as your experience of treatment.
What you can do
Identify your stress triggers
As part of your preparation for IVF treatment it is helpful to identify your areas of current vulnerability as well as anticipating potential treatment stressors. Given the unpredictability of treatment, plan for the unexpected as well as the more predictable points of stress. Consider how you tend to deal with difficult situations and what has helped in the past.
Plan your coping strategies
This might mean both refining strategies those you already use as well as developing new ones. There are many effective strategies to help you reduce and tolerate the various areas of treatment stress including pressures on your relationships, the emotional overload of treatment, and the physical and mental challenges of treatment.