One aspect of infertility treatment which is not given the attention that it deserves is stress in patients, specifically in the women. When a couple come to an IVF doctor, the doctor would generally do routine investigations, diagnosis of the IVZ problem. Then offer them treatment and go on with the normal course of treatment. Often IVF Specialists do not realise that these patients are mentally stressed aswell, which only grows if not flagged on time, may affect the outcome of IVF Treatment.
IVF treatment is a long treatment, unlike fever in which a medicine is given and the fever goes away next week. In IVF to get results it takes time, one has to be patient; one has take treatment for many months; at times face failures and rejection. This brings down the self-esteem of the patient. The couples, often starts thinking about why they cannot become a mother or father or if they will ever become parents. They often start creating a negative image about themselves, this creates stress and the whole treatment becomes very stressful. Sometimes, at home & in the society couples have a face a lot of social pressure. The in-laws, the parents the society at large questions them as to why they haven’t conceived yet. Add too all this comes the financial stress, IVF treatment is not cheap and costs quite a bit of money. If the couples have to go for multiple cycles, the consequent financial burden can be difficult for couples to manage. So all these factors accumulate and cause a lot of stress to the couples.
Looking at the level of stress the couple, specifically the women undergoes; today even scientists are looking into this aspect. Today research is being done to assess if stress hamper the infertility treatment outcome; is stress directly responsible for infertility. Recent, research and scientific data suggests that yes neuro-endocrine system can interfere with processes like ovulation or conception and may play a role in infertility.
Hence, the question arises what we as doctors can do about it. Patients who come to us for IVF treatment don’t necessarily say they are stressed. Patients generally come with their parents or spouse and are at times shy or uncomfortable mentioning about the allied stress they are facing. This is especially common in the Indian society where the women generally keeps quite and does not open up about feeling overwhelmed or stressed due to infertility. This makes it even more tricky for IVF specialists to diagnose and treat stress.
To help with identifying stress in IVF patients WHO has devised a 5 point questionnaire. These are simple questions like how often do you feel good? How often do you feel interested in life? Etc. Based on the answer provided doctors can evaluate how stressed the patient is and then initiate measures to reduce stress in the patient.
Most of the IVF doctors who know that their patients are highly stress generally recommend patients to do some exercise, meditation and/or yoga. It is good to recommend such options but realistically speaking how may patients actually go home and do it or even find the time to do it is questionable. Hence we at Thanawala Maternity Home & IVF Clinic have developed a simple method’s and techniques which we tell or IVF Patients.
So the first thing we do is really hearing them about the issues that are plaguing their mind besides the fertility issue that they have. We help unburden their emotional load. Then we give them certain techniques for example one technique is to be aware of a negative thought and saying Stop/cancel/delete whenever the negative thought manifests… this prevent thems from running into that negative rabbit hole. Another basic technique we to our patients is for them to try and be calm and meditate with their partners for 5 minutes. Shutoff all the external noise and just concentrate on the result that they want, Image and picture the result that they want. If they want the child they must picture themselves with a child in their arms without questioning how or when it will happen. This is just a positive input that they are giving to the mind and it will manifest. These are simple techniques, if nothing else they help the patients feel better and de-stress. Infact we have put this in a small booklet which we give to all our patients. This is a small guide the patients can follow, with the hope that it will help reduce their stress and help them become parents in the first IVF cycle itself. I always say this to my patients and I say this to your aswell – you are too blessed to be stressed so avoid stress. Follow simple techniques to overcome stress. Seek help if you feel you really need it. I and my entire team are here to talk to you. Thank you!
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