By Helen Nicholson, Repromed Counsellor
Anyone who is dealing with a medical issue right now will be feeling under pressure with the risk of a positive Covid-19 test cancelling the procedure at the last minute. For those going through fertility treatment like IVF, the risk is very real while Covid-19 cases are in the community, plus there is a significant investment of time and money.
To put it into context, IVF treatment has up to six months of appointments, investigations, blood tests, medication and injections, scans, egg collection and (hopefully) embryo transfer. Prior to that there needs to be 12 months of ‘trying to get pregnant’ to meet the criteria for IVF. The high cost of each cycle adds extra pressure too. In short, fertility treatment can be an emotional roller-coaster even without Covid-19 in play, and for some people, the experience can create an unsustainable state of anxiety.
To help anyone going through fertility treatment, Helen Nicholson, an experienced Counsellor with Auckland fertility clinic Repromed, has some tips for preparing emotionally for IVF in this unusual Covid-19 world.
1. Plan for scenarios
IVF treatment is a series of milestones, and each one worth celebrating when there is a successful result. While not every appointment requires a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), to have to cancel the critical egg collection procedure is the outcome that would be the biggest blow. Before going into the appointment, consider the possibility of cancellation and what the plan B would be. Perhaps talk to the nursing team to understand that unwelcome scenario and cost implication, so you are prepared.
2. Review your commitments
Reducing stress levels can help improve the chances of conceiving, which is a fact that seems counter-productive to even consider in the current environment! To give it your best shot, you could seriously review all your current commitments to do with work, family, faith, sports, lifestyle and consider any areas where you can down-size or step-back from over the course of treatment.
3. Tighten your circle
It’s important to think about who your support network is and who you want to talk to when you begin IVF. Talking to a small and select group of people you trust, who you know are good support for you, will be really beneficial in helping you on this journey. It’s okay to be selective – it could just be one person who has a tried-and-true record for supporting and not judging you.
4. Review your social media
Online support groups and forums can be great to connect with other people in similar situations as you, and can provide a great community to get support from. But if you begin to feel worse about your situation, or are feeling worried about the stories about Covid-19, then review your online involvement and consider having a break to stay focused on yourself. Connecting face to face and heart to heart with someone who cares about you can be much more rewarding.
5. Protect yourself
We suggest the following to minimise your risks of contracting Covid-19 during treatment:
- Reduce your social activity and mixing in large groups.
- Wear a well-fitted surgical or NK95 mask when out in public.
- Work from home if you can.
- Self-isolate as much as possible in the week leading up to your procedure.
6. Get in touch
We are here to support you. All IVF treatment at Repromed includes a counselling session. You can talk to a fertility counsellor before, during and after you embark on your IVF journey.
Our counsellors are qualified, experienced, approachable and passionate about helping you make sense of your feelings and the fertility information you receive. Your time with us is a safe place where you can download and destress and have help with the decisions you are making.
Helen Nicholson has been providing social work and counselling services for over 15 years. She is a registered social worker (SWRB) and member of her social work professional group (ANZASW) as well as being a full member of the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association (ANZICA). Helen is also a yoga teacher and is passionate about yoga and the role it plays in enhancing individual wellbeing.
Published May 2022.