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Shame, Anxiety, and Mood Swings: You are not Alone!

Anxiety and Mood Swings

Anxiety and Mood Swings Life’s challenges are part of the human condition and yet none are immune from the ravages of existence. They arise for reasons you cannot comprehend and leave you feeling like a wounded bird, with broken wings.⁠ Is anxiety associated with IVF? Does IVF cause anxiety? Are there certain medications that cause anxiety? ALL those answers can be found in our blog post today!

Anxiety and Mood Swings? Stress, pre-existing depression, and anxiety from not being able to fall pregnant, combined with hormone therapy, invasive time-consuming tests and procedures, and complicated medication schedules all contribute to the stress and anxiety we feel undergoing IVF. While there have been numerous studies documenting the psychological burden of fertility treatment, there have only been a few studies specifically investigating the role of hormones during ovulation induction.

Infertility is often a silent struggle. Patients who are struggling to conceive report feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and loss of control. Depression levels in patients with infertility have been compared with patients who have been diagnosed with increased cancer risk. It is estimated that 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.

Despite the prevalence of infertility, the majority of infertile women do not share their stories with family or friends, thus increasing their psychological vulnerability. The inability to reproduce naturally can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life.⁠

Patients who undergo assisted reproductive treatment (ART) are at significant risk of experiencing psychiatric disorders and it is important to recognize, acknowledge, and assist our patients as they cope with their infertility diagnosis and treatment.⁠

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists suppress a woman’s menstrual cycle, effectively causing menopause. GnRH agonists have been associated with depression in women who are taking it to treat endometriosis. A more recent study of the effect of GnRH agonists on mood during its use for ovulation induction did not show an increase in depression. In a study of the effect of clomiphene citrate and human menopausal gonadotropin (stimulates follicle growth), both have been shown to be associated with significant mood symptoms.

Despite many efforts to break the silence on infertility and pregnancy loss, fertility and miscarriage remain taboo subjects.⁠

Those suffering don’t share their experiences with others. Non-members of the infertility-and-loss club don’t know how to react or what to do when they are told of a friend’s struggle. Some honestly are uncomfortable hearing about it at all.⁠

The stigma is strong. Why? With 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility– and up to 25 percent of pregnancies ending in miscarriage – why as a society are we so uncomfortable discussing these relatively common life events?⁠

Most causes of infertility and miscarriage are not under the direct control of a couple. However, even when a person knows this, the nagging feeling that “this is all my fault” pulls at them.⁠

Shame can only survive in dark corners.⁠

It’s time we break the silence on infertility (miscarriage!). It’s time we stop feeling ashamed of medical problems over which we have little control.⁠

De-stress

Take care of yourself to lower stress levels, which appears to increase fertility treatment success.⁠

Most forms of self care focus on a healthier body, which directly translates to a healthier reproductive system.⁠

⁠Focus on what you can do. Live. Right now. Every day. Don’t make this all about the wait. Make it about you. ⁠

Anxiety and Mood Swings, Meditation, and other forms of mindfulness are known to stress relievers, and those who practice mindfulness on a regular basis report being more content, balanced, and physically healthier. ⁠

Scheduling a telehealth appointment with a fertility doctor may be easier than ever before. You may be able to explore some deeper queries that may arise such as donor eggs, sperm, using a gestational surrogate.⁠

Shove the journal articles aside, unplug from the treadmill of infertility and fertility treatment research, tips and information – and enjoy something mindless for a change- magazine or novels!⁠

Take a good walk or hike: Researchers have found spending time outdoors – even just 10 to 15 minutes in a green space or with a view of the trees/landscape immediately decreases stress and anxiety and mood swings, revives dulled minds, and boosts the immune system.⁠

You know that exercising keeps you healthy. It makes you strong and helps you stay in shape. But it also improves your mood and your sleep. It reduces stress and anxiety and mood swings. It helps your brain to function better.⁠

Infertility Warriors, of all people, need a functioning brain. For all the reasons listed above. That’s why you need to move your physical body in this period of waiting. Not too much, not too little. ⁠

If you are following the guidance about things that will put your body in its optimum state to get pregnant — your weight, foods to avoid/eat, cut down/stop drinking alcohol and smoking, cut back on caffeine and take vitamins — you may have a hard time finding ways to treat yourself during your journey. ⁠

Find some small and special treats that won’t throw off your fertility diet goals- a single macaron, a decadent dark chocolate. ⁠

Spend time with friends that lift you up and spend time together as a couple.⁠

Although it may feel like infertility has taken over your life, it doesn’t define you or your achievements in life. You are amazing and strong! ⁠

⁠Struggling with infertility can be an extremely lonely process. A lot of people struggling don’t tell friends or family, but it is so important to get support from somewhere. Infertility can leave you questioning everything — your future, your relationship, and most crucially your mental health.⁠

Talking through your thoughts with someone who understands will help validate your feelings and make you feel less alone. It will also help you see more clearly to be able to take positive action to change how you feel and increase your chances of getting pregnant.⁠

Research has found that feelings of depression and anxiety peak around three years post-infertility diagnosis. However, six years post-diagnosis, couples are feeling stronger, and depression and anxiety symptoms lessen.⁠

Bromelain to Brazil Nuts- IVF Myths 

IVF Myth No. 1: Eating pineapple core for five days after embryo transfer can up one’s chances of conception.⁠

The fruit contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and blood-thinning properties. Much of the bromelain is concentrated in the core. There are a lot of stories about pineapple’s effectiveness, but not a lot of data backing it up. Some fertility doctors prescribe low-dose baby aspirin — also a blood thinner — to help improve blood flow to the uterus, so the idea is that pineapples could mimic that effect. ⁠

IVF myth No. 2: Eating Brazil nuts during the two-week wait can lead to a healthy pregnancy.⁠

Brazil nuts are packed with selenium. One study (published in the journal Metallomics) found that selenium helps promote healthy egg follicles in female cows, and that same study also found that levels of GPX-1 (a protein found in selenium) were much higher in women who got pregnant after a single embryo transfer.⁠

However, too much selenium can be toxic, so stay within the recommended daily allowance typically just 55 micrograms, with the highest maximum amount being 400 micrograms daily. ⁠

Gestational Carriers 

What is a gestational carrier? A gestational carrier (GC), is not the same as a surrogate. A surrogate is someone who donates her egg and then subsequently carries the child; she is genetically linked to that baby. Today, such cases of true surrogacy are very rare. In the case of a gestational carrier, the woman carrying the pregnancy is in no way biologically related to the child she is carrying; the eggs and sperm are derived from the “intended parents” (or possibly an egg or sperm donor), through the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The egg is fertilized in the lab, and then the embryo (or embryos) is placed into the uterus of the gestational carrier.

– Absent uterus, either congenital, which means you were born with, or from surgery.⁠

– Abnormalities of the uterus such as severe intrauterine scarring from Asherman’s syndrome or multiple benign tumors of the uterus called fibroids ⁠

– If carrying a pregnancy is too risky where the woman or baby’s life would be in danger (Turner’s Syndrome, or pulmonary hypertension, for example). ⁠

Other circumstances to use a GC include a single male, or in the LGBTQ population of a gay male couple, or single transgender female. Lastly, there may be a strong consideration for a GC if the woman has undergone multiple uterine surgeries for example, fibroid tumors, and also cesarean sections, where the uterine muscle may be weakened to result in complications near the end of the pregnancy as well as when recurrent miscarriage is unexplained following a thorough evaluation and multiple treatments.⁠

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 859 surrogacy and gestational carrier cycles were performed in the United States in 2010.