Going through infertility and IVF can be challenging, so before you start an IVF cycle, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are emotionally prepared for the journey ahead of you.

Many of you, you will have decided to do IVF after months, or even years, of trying to conceive naturally. You may have tried IUIs or tried IVF before and some of you may also have been through the sadness of baby loss. Some of you may have come to terms with your infertility many years ago, as a result of a known, pre-existing medical condition, or because you are LGBTQ and know that conceiving naturally is not an option for you.  

It’s likely that you will be offered counselling at some, or several stages of the IVF process by your clinic or specialist and it’s important to be open to this. You may also decide to opt for counselling in addition to what the clinic offers.

How can therapy help before IVF?

Having counselling before starting IVF, can help you to come to terms with any of the feelings of loss, grief, sadness, frustration, envy or disappointment that you have experienced already on your fertility journey. It can help you to work through any anxiety, fear and questions that you may have around IVF treatment.
Counselling can also help to ensure that you and your partner (if you have one) are on the same page and that you start the IVF process with open lines of communication. Being able to speak honestly and share your feelings and emotions during the process, can reduce stress considerably, which is not only good for your mental well-being, it can potentially increase your chances of conception too.
Having counselling prior to IVF can help you to prepare for the outcome of the cycle, whichever way it goes.  Finding out that you are expecting a much-longed-for baby would obviously be a wonderful outcome, however, it’s important to fully recognise that IVF, particularly the first cycle, could also have a disappointing outcome for you, which you also need to be prepared for.    

How can therapy help during IVF?

IVF brings emotional and physical challenges. For women, the hormones they are given can alter their mood and present them with a variety of symptoms. This, compounded by the likely anxiety of not knowing whether the treatment will work, anxiety about whether they are doing everything they can lifestyle wise to get the best outcome and often trying to juggle medical appointments with work commitments, it’s no wonder that they can end up stressed and exhausted.
For men, they are aware of what their partner’s are putting their body through with hormone injections, oral medication and suppositories, as well as the physical examinations. Men can often struggle with seeing the effects on their partner and not knowing how best to help and support them. Many men want to attend the appointments too and will also be juggling the work commitments.  

Either one, or both partners, may feel a sense of self-blame, if they feel that their inability to conceive a child lies with their fertility issues. Although with infertility, neither partner is at fault, counselling can help both partners to accept this and move on.  
Having therapy can help to normalise the feelings and emotions and keep the communication pathways open. Having someone to speak to outside of your family and social circle, who understands what you are going through, can be really helpful.

How can counselling help when you get a positive pregnancy test result?

Having a positive pregnancy test after IVF can be a shock, even though it’s what you’ve been working towards and hoping for! Many people try so hard to protect themselves emotionally from the potential devastation of it failing, that they are completely thrown by a positive test!
Counselling in this circumstance can help you to deal with the emotions you’ve been feeling, put all that behind you and help you to mentally prepare for the upcoming stages of pregnancy, the birth and beyond.

How can counselling help after a failed IVF cycle?

Sadly, for many people, the emotional, physical and often financial investment they’ve made in going through the IVF process, fails to provide the outcome they wanted.
If your IVF cycle is unsuccessful, counselling can help you to come to terms with the feelings of grief, loss, frustration and anxiety that you may experience.
It can also help you to prepare for your journey ahead, whether that is further cycles of IVF or ICSI (when you are ready) an alternative route to parenthood, such as fostering or adoption, or moving on with your lives in a different way altogether.

Everyone’s fertility journey is different. Here, at the IVF network, we aim to provide as much information and support as we can, through our dedicated channel of expert speakers, our website and our blog posts. Being prepared and informed, can help to make your fertility journey easier.