How to reduce the stress caused by fertility treatments?

estrés durante un tratamiento de fertilidad

Infertility can push you into a roller coaster of emotions. Feelings of guilt, shame, anger, helplessness and unpredictability can become a constant stress source for every patient.

They try to understand why something seemingly easy and natural for some, but a struggle for them. It is also hard when something so private and intimate like a pregnancy is turned into something medical.

On top of all that, the fact that they have to travel to a foreign country to get the appropriate treatments adds even more stress.

At IVF-Spain we know what our patients are going through, and we know what emotional baggage they have been carrying. That’s why we have placed the patient at the centre of our care, starting from the very first contact with us. We try to reduce the stress that is caused by fertility treatments as much as possible.

Patient Care as a Priority

The role of personal assistants is essential for us. Their role is to advise, inform and guide the patient throughout their fertility journey, from their first visit to the clinic until the moment they give birth to their baby.

“Our international team is composed of professional assistants who communicate with their patients in their mother tongue. We understand this process of distress and anxiety very well. Our mission is to reduce the stress of our patients as much as possible and offer them all the trust and care they need to take one of the most important decisions in their life”,

explains Natasa Tuñon (Patient Care Coordinator).

Recent research results suggest that a high concentration of Cortisol (the stress hormone) could affect the chances of getting pregnant. IVF-Spain offers an enhanced patient experience that helps patients feel comfortable and safe. The facilities have been designed to accommodate patients with intimacy. In these rooms decisions that will change the future parent’s lives are usually taken.

Managing Patients Expectations

At IVF-Spain every case is studied differently and with a complete personalised approach. That is the best way to find the right treatment and to offer realistic chances of success. This is how a fertility specialist must discuss directly with the patients the best treatment options, in order to offer realistic probabilities of pregnancy without creating false expectations, always bearing in mind the possible influence that stress can have.

“In our clinic, we think that it is important to manage stress in three different steps. First, we reduce the unpredictability, providing transparent information about treatments, tests and about every single step of the fertility journey. The second step is personalising treatment to the maximum level, and to go over our success rates  with the patients, thus offering realistic expectations. The third and last step is to offer our patients all the support and guidance they need”,

points out Natalia Szlarb, Gynaecologist and Medical Director at IVF-Spain Alicante.

The Importance of Understanding

Another department that is in touch with the patients is the Embryology Unit. These professionals are in charge of the fertilisation, monitoring and selection of the best embryo for the transfer. A great part of the success of the treatment relies on the skills of the embryologists and that is exactly why the information they provide to the patient has to be clear and transparent, emphatic and easy to understand.

To give the patients the chance to get a better understanding of a complex process of like the embryo development until blastocyst stage (day 5-6 of the development), patients get to see explanatory videos. Most of the times, the patients admit that they had never seen an embryo developing that close.

Leonor Ortega, IVF-Spain Lab Director, confirms that clear and emphatic information is the best strategy to reduce unpredictability:

“After egg retrieval, the patient will get daily updates about the obtained oocytes and the embryos produced, no matter if own or donor eggs. We explain without any limit of time, about the degree of maturation, the sperm quality, and the fertilisation rate. Likewise, patients receive daily updates on the embryo quality and cell division”

The embryo transfer is a decisive moment for patients. The embryologists go inside the recovery box to inform the patients and recap information about their cycle of treatment, the development of the embryos and the reason for the selection of the embryo to be transferred. After the process they get a detailed report, so that they are fully informed about the entire process, which reduces the stress of fertility treatments.

Avoiding Misleading Messages

One of the most important things for a fertility clinic is to take care of their communication in a professional way. What we are looking for is a respectful and honest Marketing approach, being 100% aware that there can literally be no real guarantees in a science like Medicine.

According to the vision of María José Peral, Marketing Director:

We understand what fertilitty treatment involves and how stressful traveling abroad for your treatment can be. That’s why we develop communication campaigns which focus on patient experience mostly. We engage in respectful Marketing practices because we believe we have a commitment to providing true and accurate information. This way we can honestly help our patients make one of the most important decisions in their lives: to build the family they have always wanted.”

Every little bit helps

Alternative treatments and therapies can also have a place during treatment, knowing that the emotional well-being can be achieved thanks to different factors. Techniques like acupuncture or relaxing massages are services that can reduce the stress of fertility treatments and that the patients often ask for, before embryo transfer. The clinic provides patients with the contact details of experts and professionals, like David Company, Physiotherapist specialised in Chinese medicine, who confirms that

“both relaxing massages and acupuncture are techniques that help achieve relaxation and de-stress moments that are highly advisable when undergoing an IVF treatment”.