If you’re undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), you know how anxiety and worry can dominate your thoughts. Here’s how to manage your IVF anxiety during the process.
1. Identify your worries
Before you can manage your IVF anxiety, you must start by simply identifying it. At this point, you don’t have to judge your concerns. Simply listen to your thoughts and pick out any recurring worries.
Common worries that those with IVF experience include:
- Will I have children?
- Am I doing everything I should for a healthy conception?
- Are others judging me?
- Should I have tried to get pregnant earlier in my life?
- Will my health issues doom me to infertility?
- Is my partner resentful? (Or do I resent them?)
- Is this working?
Identify and then accept that these are things you’re worried about.
2. Examine your worries
After you’ve identified them, it’s time to compassionately examine your concerns.
For worries about IVF success, your preparations, and future children, talk to your doctor. They understand your unique health profile and can share success stats from others who have a similar background.
Look at the evidence when these worries take hold. Remember, the majority of infertility patients end up having children. Your journey may not look the same as you expected, but it is yours. Many patients successfully get pregnant after IVF or other fertility treatments.
For other people’s perceptions, be kind and your own best friend.
Let your worries out into the light and look at them realistically. Are your friends with children judging you? Almost certainly not. Is your partner resentful? Again, almost certainly not. By talking about your concerns with your partner, friends, or family, you’ll find that many of these worries simply aren’t real.
3. Reframe your thought patterns
Now that you’ve accepted the worries you have and looked at the evidence, find more productive ways to reframe your thought patterns.
Ask yourself what you want to think about instead of worrying. For example, if you’re worried about your partner, think about the wonderful ways you’ve grown and become stronger as a couple during the IVF experience.
If you’re ruminating on if you’re going to have children or not, assure yourself that you and your fertility team are doing everything possible to help you towards a healthy pregnancy.
4. Put a time limit on worrying
This simple trick is perhaps one of the most profound, according to Psychology Today.
You will have IVF anxiety—that’s a given. Designate a time and space every day of no more than 30 minutes when you can worry. Give your worry a limit and you’ll find that the time will become more productive and focused on problem-solving versus rumination.
When the time is up, attempt to stop thinking of the concerns you have. If you worry outside of that time, you can make a note about it to worry over later.
5. Prioritize communication
If you have a partner while going through IVF, it means that you have another person with their own wants, needs, and stressors during this process.
It can also become easy to take the anxiety out on your partner but resist the urge. Instead, prioritize compassionate communication about the journey you’re going through together.
Give time to your relationship outside of IVF concerns, too. That can be a weekly date night, or it can be a simple ten-minute walk around the block at the end of your day.
6. Add self-care into your daily routine
It’s important to take time for yourself during IVF as well. Adding mindfulness exercises like yoga, meditation, a pre-sleep ritual, or journaling can help with the initial step of identifying worries. You may also find joy reading your favourite books or magazines, taking a walk, getting a pedicure, or listening to music. Find what soothes you.
And remember: self-care starts with the self. Add things into your routine that you legitimately enjoy doing. Add things that are healing. Don’t simply add additional chores (or dreaded “shoulds”) into your day that you don’t enjoy.
7. Get support
IVF anxiety and worry is normal, but you don’t have to bear it alone. Others have gone through the same challenges. Reach out to infertility support groups to commiserate, laugh, and cry with others going through IVF.
Professional counsellors and therapists are another invaluable resources. Infertility is hard. Give yourself the gift of getting help from someone who has the tools to guide you through this emotional journey.
8. Take it one day at a time
IVF is a journey of routines, taken one day and one step of the process at a time. Worries and anxiety and “should-haves” are a normal part of this journey. Your goal is to find ways to lessen their impact on your life and reframe worry into a more productive and positive experience.