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Psychotherapy and Its Role in IVF

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Psychotherapy supports individuals or couples to face the challenges associated with in vitro treatment. To know more about it, read the article below.

Medically reviewed by

Daniyal Riaz

Published At March 24, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 20, 2024

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy refers to techniques that are used to bring a change in people’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions. It is also known as talk therapy, a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. During the process, a trained psychotherapist helps the patient to overcome problematic thoughts or behaviors and cope well with the challenges in the future. Psychotherapy can be of various formats, involving an individual, couples, family, or group therapy, to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsions, or helps with relationships.

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a series of complex procedures to help fertility. The process involves assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are fertilized outside the female body. Then, several days after fertilization, the fertilized eggs ( an embryo) are placed inside a uterus. In vitro fertilization is performed for many reasons, including infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis (a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus), or low sperm count. In vitro fertilization is a complicated process that lasts four to six weeks.

How Is Psychotherapy Important In Infertility?

Infertility can be an emotional rollercoaster ride, and often, people lean towards their spouses and family when distressed. The feelings may vary from self-blame, low self-esteem, negative emotions, anxiety, depression, or even avoidance. Understanding the patient's feelings about infertility and the various treatment options is necessary.

Counseling patients who want a baby or are undergoing an IVF helps keep them informed of all the possibilities regarding donor treatments' psychological, social, and legal implications. Embarking on lengthy procedures, endless appointments, and huge expenses makes people vulnerable and emotional. Yet, on the other hand, they are hopeful and eager to welcome the new addition to the family. Counseling addresses these mixed feelings of fear, anxiety, joy, and nervousness.

Why Is Counseling Important Before IVF Treatment?

IVF counseling facilitates decision-making regarding the treatment and whether one wishes to continue. IVF organizations recommend counseling before, during, and after an IVF procedure. The following situations indicate that one may opt for counseling before the treatment.

  • Identifying and Dealing With Infertility - Unsuccessful pregnancy tries can affect one's mental health. Therefore, the couple should see a counselor who will guide them through IVF treatment and offer a non-judgmental platform for more precise solutions.

  • Acceptance of the Treatment - Patients must know that treatment is not guaranteed to work constantly. They must be aware of its effects, complications, and risks. The patients must be prepared for the outcome, including a failed attempt or several failed attempts. Failure in the IVF cycle can trigger feelings such as frustration, hurt, disappointment, depression, and fear.

  • The Myth of IVF - Several myths revolve around IVF treatment, such as it can lead to multiple babies, increased risk of cancer, traumatic procedure, increased risk of congenital disabilities, or not a good option for overweight women. Counseling on the facts can encourage more people to take up IVF treatment.

  • Consent - The couple, including the success rate, miscarriage rate, ectopic pregnancy rate, refund policy, or risk of the procedures, must sign a written consent. It also creates trust between the doctor and the patient. It also briefs the couples on the legal implications of donor treatments.

  • Sequel of Events - The counselor briefs the couples on the sequel of the procedure and ensures support to overcome emotional problems.

What Role Do Counselors Play During the Treatment?

Counseling sessions may not give solutions, but they can help to find them and bring down depression and anxiety, which may arise from societal pressure, bad memories, or even troubled relationships related to infertility issues.

  • Psychological counseling helps observe and handle the emotional or psychological changes that may occur during the treatment.

  • Every stage and every day of fertility treatment is essential. Counseling during the treatment helps to understand the couple's feelings and can build capacity, enabling environment, and positivity during the treatment.

  • Changes in the treatment can be devastating. Getting counseling allows the couples to discuss every bit of discomfort and apprehension they may be undergoing.

Why Is Psychotherapy Required After the IVF Treatment?

Waiting for the results is the most crucial stage in IVF treatment. The waiting period ends in a result that can bring many changes in the patient's clinical and personal life. Psychological counseling helps couples during this stressful period by:

  • Providing an enabling environment and time to express their feelings and fears by helping them to stay positive and calm.

  • Coping and accepting with post negative results can be challenging for couples. The psychological counseling session allows the couple to express their feelings without judgment or bias.

  • In cases where pregnancies end due to miscarriage. Counseling sessions in such instances can help couples deal with the pain.

  • Society comes with negative comments, suggestions, stigma, or discrimination. However, regular counseling and psychotherapy help the couple to stay positive and lead a satisfying life.

Role of IVF Counselor:

  • The counselor should make them comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings by actively listening. Respecting an individual's feelings is an integral part of counseling.

  • The counselor should convey an air of kindness, patience, and understanding.

  • Should not give advice or interfere with the couple’s decision. Counselors maintain confidentiality and keep the couple posted on conception problems.

  • In case of repeated failure, they must advise the couple to take a few months before another try, as it helps to recover from the stress and gives a chance to discuss improving the chances of success in the next attempt.

  • Provides information about sperm banks, egg banks, embryo banks, and surrogacy as an alternative.

Conclusion:

Couples undergoing IVF treatment are vulnerable to anxiety, fear, stress, negativity, or depression. Societal pressure also plays a significant role. Counseling sessions throughout the in vitro fertilization procedures can allow them to deal with every stage positively and take the next move. A psychotherapy session immensely benefits by improving mental health by reducing depression, and enhances partnership, and must be considered as a part of the treatment.

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Daniyal Riaz
Daniyal Riaz

Psychologist/ Counselor

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