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Advice for patients seeking fertility assistance

I have just come across this document published by The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) which outlines some really fabulous hints and tips for getting the most out of your fertility care.  The document has been put together by some of world leaders in psychosocial fertility support, and it shows – the tips are clear and simple but really excellent.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 3.28.46 pmYou can check out the entire document here ESHRE PSYCHOLOGY GUIDELINE_Patient version_15022016 but here is the full list of tips:

10 tips for patients undergoing fertility treatment.

 

1. Be open and honest to fertility staff regarding your lifestyle behaviours (for example smoking, alcohol use, diet, eating disorders) and ask advice on improving your chances of getting pregnant/fathering a child. (Studies have shown that a considerable number of patients have lifestyle behaviours that may negatively affect their general and reproductive health, and that patients do not fully these. The guideline recommends that fertility staff consider providing you with information about lifestyle. They should also support you in changing your lifestyle to improve your general health and chance of treatment success.)

 

2. Ask fertility staff about assessing your risk of developing emotional diffciulties during treatment. (The guideline recommends fertility staff to offer you the opportunity to have your psychosocial needs assessed and to inform you about your emotional adjustment before the start of treatment. The aim is to ascertain if you have emotional difficulties and, if yes, to provide you with additional support, for example, seeing a counsellor or a psychologist, or having contact with other patients.)

3. If you have a partner, undergo all treatment procedures together. (The guideline recommends fertility staff to actively involve both partners of the couple in the diagnosis and treatment process. Therefore, if possible, take your partner to the clinic.)

4. Be aware that men and women experience infertility and fertility treatments differently. (Several studies indicate that men and women experience infertility differently. Women report higher levels of depression and stress before treatment. Men are more stoic so that they can support their partner, but report feeling more isolated during treatment. Furthermore, in couples, the way one partner reacts to infertility is associated with how the other partner reacts. Expecting differences between you and your partner may help you in coping with treatment and understanding and talking to each other.)

 

5. Ask for written information on medical procedures. (Studies have shown that preparatory information about medical procedures promotes compliance with treatment, decreases infertility-specific anxiety and stress and increases patient knowledge. Therefore, the guideline recommends fertility staff to provide you with preparatory information about medical procedures.)

6. Be aware that you will experience different emotions during your fertility treatment (Studies have shown that most patients experience different emotions during a fertility treatment cycle. Patients report being optimistic during the hormonal stimulation period. They always experience more anxiety before important medical procedures such as collecting the oocytes and transferring the embryos. At these moments, women may also experience physical fatigue but they also feel closer to their partner. Anxiety and stress are higher during the two-week waiting period to know if a pregnancy was achieved. Those patients who have a negative pregnancy test can experience intense sadness and depression. You will probably experience some of these emotions during treatment. Be reassured that these feelings are common.)

7. Expect an impact of treatment on your work (Studies have shown that during an IVF/ICSI cycle, 6 in 10 patients report missing work. On average, patients miss 23 hours of work per IVF cycle. You can ask for more information about the impact of treatment on your work and how you can best handle this.)

8. Be involved in decisions regarding your treatment (The guideline recommends fertility staff to discuss treatment options with patients and to support them in making their choices. In addition, fertility staff should offer patients the opportunity to discuss and clarify their treatment related concerns. If you have questions, or you need more information, do not hesitate to ask. No question is too silly!

9. If you experience psychosocial problems, ask fertility staff to refer you for additional support. (The guideline recommends fertility staff to provide routine psychosocial care and to refer patients at risk of experiencing severe psychosocial problems to infertility counselling or psychotherapy. Do not hesitate to discuss psychosocial issues with your team.)

 

10. When ending fertility treatment (successful or unsuccessful), ask for an appointment with your doctor. (The guideline recommends fertility staff to offer patients the opportunity to discuss their worries about a pregnancy achieved with fertility treatment or to discuss the consequences of ending unsuccessful treatment. When you are ending treatment, because you or your partner became pregnant, you may want to discuss your worries concerning the pregnancy and the health of the baby. If you stop treatment without achieving pregnancy, you may have questions about additional options, or concerns about coping with being childless. In either case, you may benefit from an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor may discuss the next steps with you and help you to get additional support, if needed.)

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