Infertility And The Emotional Toll Of IVF Treatment


Infertility is for some a very challenging and emotionally painful condition. There are a wide variety of causal factors underlying fertility issues and for some, Invitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a treatment option that can be undertaken to assist. While IVF aims to help achieve a pregnancy, it is unfortunately not always successful. Even a positive pregnancy test at the end of an IVF treatment cycle does not guarantee an ongoing pregnancy, and the early weeks of a pregnancy does not always lead to a baby born. According to the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, in 2019 there were 16,310 babies born from 88,929 IVF cycles performed in Australia and New Zealand (18% birth rate; success rates vary by age group).


IVF treatment offers the possibility of pregnancy and a baby, but it cannot and does not guarantee it. The process is intense and invasive for the body and the mind, and even for those who have IVF success (a baby), emotional difficulties can endure for some time after. Prior to a first IVF or subsequent IVF cycles people can report one, some or all of the following psychological concerns: fear, hopefulness, hopelessness, grief, sadness, disruption in relationships, body image concerns, feelings of failure, isolation, loneliness, emptiness, relief, anxiety, curiosity, exhaustion, reluctance, readiness, financial strain, high stress, medical fatigue, optimism, and a sense of a resignation about proceeding with the process.

Emotional toll

The overwhelming desire to have a child can make it challenging for people to absorb the factual, statistical chances of treatment success or failure. Failed IVF cycles often increase the desire and longing for a child that some say become stronger with each cycle. Rather than statistics and facts, it is often hopes and dreams that sway the decision to continue with ongoing cycles, at times beyond the ability to cope effectively, to the point of mental and physical ill health, worsening work, financial and relationship stress, a growing sense of failure, frequent dysfunction in sexuality and for most, varying degrees of sadness, grief, distress, hopelessness, and despair.

Support is available

For those who struggle, it is important to know the inability to have a child is a survivable condition, as is failed IVF treatment. Infertility is one aspect of the whole of you; you live with it, it is not all of who you are. Often painful, overwhelming, life changing and sad, infertility does not always feel survivable, but it is. It may take time to adjust to a new reality, to decide to proceed with or cease treatment, to explore other ways to make a family (or not), to work

Fertility Journey

through grief and loss, many go on to adjust and thrive in ways they never imagined possible. Having psychological support before, during and after IVF treatment is as important as the medical interventions you will undergo. Your mind, emotions, feelings, distress, hopes, dreams and fears accompany you through the treatment process, despite the IVF/medical regime demanding the majority of your attention and time.

At Hardwick’s we can offer compassionate and therapeutic support throughout your fertility/IVF journey. We aim to assist you to manage stress, any symptoms of depression and anxiety, in decision making, and to provide education, support and strategies to use in the preparation for and during IVF treatment; and in assisting you to cope with treatment failure if that is a part of your infertility/IVF story.