thread: IVF - How Hard is it on Relationships?

  1. #1
    Carissa Guest

    IVF - How Hard is it on Relationships?

    Hi there

    My gyn has advised us that we may need to consider IVF as an option if we have not conceived by the time we see him next in September.

    Our original reaction has been pretty much a "no way" as we are worried about the pressure on our relationship. Even though we have a very strong relationship and are very much madly in love with each other, we are worried that IVF might fail (and given that 5 months on 100mg/day of Clomid has been ineffective) and wonder if we will be able to cope with it if it does. I know this might seem like a negative approach however we are genuinely worried about the strain it may put on our currently wonderful marriage.

    We have heard stories about couples whose marriages have ended because of the stress (two couples we actually have known).

    If you have been down the IVF path, would you be so kind as to share your experience with me?


    Many thanks,

  2. #2
    Carissa Guest

    Thanks for repling Tresna. I've broached the subject a few times with my DH but he really does seem dead against it. He's not the most emotional guy in the world, ie if/when I get upset because AF has arrived AGAIN, he basically tells me not to overreact and to "relax".

    Mind you, it's not like I go all mental and/or scream/cry about it. I'm more inclined perhaps to be a little quiet for a while and just say that I am obviously disappointed. Given this, I doubt he would be able to support me emotionally through IVF.

    We both need to sit down together and have a long hard chat about it before we see the Gyn on 18/9 as I suspect he is going to want an answer.

    Thanks Again,

  3. #3
    Registered User

    Sep 2004


    This is a question I guess we have all had to address at some stage either before or during IVF. What has been people's experience of IVF on your relationship, not only with your partner, but I guess it also often includes your employer (time off), any kids you might have and other family/friends who know about what your going through?

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to minimise the effects it can have on your relationship?


  4. #4
    Registered User

    Jun 2004

    Yeah I agree that this is sometimes an overlooked area of the whole IVF procedure, when couples are referred to IVF by a GP, gyno or other medic. And yet, so much depends on this when doing IVF.

    I have a couple of points of view - from different relationship perspectives.

    After my second m/c, I really hit rock bottom and was very depressed. So much so, that I needed some medication to get me through each day. DH wasn't handling my mental state very well at all and I felt like he was blaming me for everything going worng (not the m/c per se, but other things at home). In the weeks after the m/c, I felt we were always fighting. Once I got my brian under control via the meds, things became much better and I must admit, poor DH was probably taking his cues from me.

    We went straight on IVF after that m/c . I stopped the meds before commencing IVF and I have never looked like needing them again. I guess I got a better perspective of what was going on, and stopped blaming myself for the failed pgs.

    Since beginning IVF and all the assisted reproduction (in all its guises!!), I feel that DH and I have a much better understanding and in depth knowledge of what the whole process is. I reckon that even though I have a background in science and DH is initmately aware of reproduction through AIing the cows, that neither of us really thought beyond having sex to have a baby. Armed with the knowledge of hormones, mucus, sperm health, ovum health, genetic issues, blood issues, environmental issues, timing, charting, drug therapy, relaxation, alternative medicines etc etc... we are better equipped as a couple to face the pressures of IVF.

    It is funny to think that the whole stress and strain of IVF has made us a better, more informed couple about reproduction. For us, IVF made us as a couple, not broke us. I guess that from my perspective (and I'm sure DH will support this), if we can make it through IVF, we can make it through anything!

    Extended family have been reasonably good, although I must admit, we have been selective in who we have let know about the whole fertility problem issue. But the ones we have told, have been supportive without being too interferring. In fact, I think because we told only selected family members and asked them not to say anything, they felt a sense of giving us privacy and that we would fill them in when they needed to know.

    However, I wish I could say the same for other relationships. Work collegues have been another kettle of fish.

    Some people have been ok, but on the whole, I think that unless you have to mention it (which I did), it is best left unsaid. Particulary if those work collegues either don't currently have children or are just starting families themselves. I found that things varied from outright noseiness to downright disinterest. And I have also found that some relationships that were previously strong, have waned over the past couple of years, while I have been TTC and they have been having babies. Like they feel guilty for talking to me. Or embarrassed. Or something. Maybe they think they are 'saving' me from heartache by not having to see or hear about their kids. In fact, sheltering by others can make things worse. I felt alienated and rejected a lot of the time, even though they probably felt they were trying to do a good thing.

    I also got this from some extended family members too - especially when they would have babies themselves. All of a sudden, there was this distance between us. I still feel that even though I am now pg, DH and I are on the outer somewhat.

    I guess, like any major lifestyle issue, this type of thing really sorts out your true friends form your aquaintances. The trick is to know which are which. My advice is to identify who will proivide support and who will just want updates on how you are doing. Others will just want the gossip about you. Rely on the ones that will provide true support, because although DH/DP may be very supportive and understanding, IVF is bigger than the two of you, and occasionally, you both need someone else to talk to other than each other.


  5. #5
    Registered User

    Sep 2004

    I'm up to IVF attempt #13 and I feel that it has definitely effected our relationship, we have been together for 7 years now. We have also been through quite a lot together prior to the IVF process. DH is a very sensitive and caring man - but recently we had the opportunity of time away from our child. We had a chat and I was suprised that my DH stated that we would have probably divorced by now if it wasn't for a success on attempt#4.

    You can't underestimate how the hormone treatment can effect you emotionally and physically.

    You need to be open and honest about the process before and during. Planning time is very important, time together and time apart. Little code words or gestures to indicate how you are feeling - there is nothing worse than being asked how you feel?

    Sometimes I find myself biting at DH and saying look it's my body that it's happening to you don't understand - and men just don't really really understand - as long as they try - that's important.

    You can tend to become very introverted and unsociable because you're frightened that you might snap at someone or get upset - so your friends and family need to be understanding too.

  6. #6
    Sal Guest

    Sheree and Hayseed, you've both nailed it on the head. It really is something that can't be underestimated.

    IMHO I think that the more a woman wants (and actually needs) to have a baby, the worse the stress. I have a close friend who underwent IVF (got pg on her 3rd attempt) but didn't stress too much about it...for her, she was never clucky and I get the impression that a lot of her motivation was the fear of 'missing out' on having a baby and also because her DH really wanted one. So I think she would have been fine (though a little pee'd off about spending all the money for no return) if things hadn't worked out for her.

    The stress comes from the failure and the realisation of the possibility of not being able to have the longed-for baby.

  7. #7
    Registered User

    Sep 2004

    For me, well Im not really sure yet. I know when things went so badly during our first attempt, we found we each had completely different responses. Mine was one of total disappointment and wanting to just try again, whereas DH responded with anger. His feelings were after all that and we still didnt even get a chance, really pi$$ed him off.

    Now we are waiting for financial resources before trying again, but sometimes cant help but wonder whether DH would be more keen to try again sooner if things had gone differently. I dont mean that if we were successful (obviously), but moreso if he felt as though we had gotten a bit closer. As it was it doesnt really feel as though we got any further than we ever have (IYKWIM).

    So, I guess we are still in the pangs of the relationship change possibillities. I know the financials of it are causing some issues, but I think that is because we havent yet had the experience of feeling as though we paid for something.


  8. #8
    Registered User

    Feb 2005

    I am actually seeing a counsellor on Thursday to talk about this very thing.

    I have some concerns that IVF is just going to drive an even bigger wedge between me and DH. Infertility has been challenging enough and I already feel a distancing from my family and other friends because of it. I find now that I don't really want to ring my family unless I have something to say, because I just can't cheer the hell up and make decent conversation. With great reluctance, at Christmas, I told my mother that I was seeing an infertility specialist and was going to an IVF clinic. Now she feels the need to ask me about it. I'm so confused, I don't know whether I like it better now that she knows or if it was better before when she didn't!!

    My sister also pulled me aside at Christmas and wanted to know what was wrong with me (she knew we'd been trying and failing for a couple of years). I wanted to tell her how I felt but I couldn't because I was thinking "If I open my mouth, I'll start crying and never stop".

    DH wants things to be better, I know it. The other day, we were looking at photos. He said "There you are when you used to be happy". I said, "Well, I'll be happy again one day. It just may take some time". I know that he has fears about us being able to afford it but I kind of feel that we can't afford NOT to do the treatment at least once. Something in me has to know. I feel that if the eggs don't fertilise, I'll have my answer. I might be pinning too much on one event but I think what I really want is resolution. I'm looking for a marker that says "Okay, that was bad but now it's over and you can go on with the rest of your life" whether that is with a child or without.

    Anyway, God help this poor counsellor because I can feel a gut-spilling coming on ...

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Sep 2004

    Mel, totally understand what you mean about its effect spreading even to friends and family.

    Have many friends and family who have no idea about IVF or why we are doing it (ie. have been told chance of both falling pg and carrying to full term on our own is nigh impossible. Have been given chance of less than 1% - mind you not sure how they come to that figure?)

    We have those people who say things like, "well it'll probably happen before you even get to do IVF", or you know the famous and most annoying "If you just relax and stop focussing on it, it'll just happen"..... All I can say to that is :fuming: AAaaarrrgghhhh!

    Hope the Counsellor can shed some light on things for you Mel....

    Think I need to send some huge big to each of us going through this [email protected]!


  10. #10
    Registered User

    Jun 2004

    A couple of responses have mentioned money and the cost of doing IVF. This is also a very inmportant area for a number of couples embarking, as constrained finances can add to the stress of the whole thing.

    When DH proposed to me, I immediately set up a saver account into which I put $250/fn. This money was to pay for the wedding (I am an only child and have no dad; I was also on a bigger wage than my mum, so hence I paid for my wedding) and never withdrew any money until I had actaul wedidng expenses. (Stay with me on this....)

    After the wedding, I didn't stop the direct payments from work going into this account and DH and I started using this account as a baby saving account - you know, to buy baby items when we got pg. Well, as you all know, that didn't happen as planned and that money was then used for IVF treatments. And I was working full time whilst going through IVF, so this account was continually paid into every fortnight.

    Because of this savings process, money was not a limiting factor in our IVF journey. And I really feel for those couples who face only being able to complete 1 or 2 cycles because of finances. Indirectly, we were prepared financially for IVF without even knowing it. I don;t mean to rub this in the face of those of you of which money is an issue, but I am trying to say that if you don;t have spare resources of money available, it becomes another stress on top of an already confusing, stressful, upsetting time.

    I guess that some couples, regardless of the expense, will continue with IVF even when they cannot afford it. But how many of you were counselled about the costs and the impacts that this area can have on an already stressful situation? I wasn't and I think it should have been bought up by someone in the system.

    When asked, I tell people honestly about the costs - including all the 'hidden' costs such as extra drugs, travelling costs, accommodation costs (if you have to stay overnight near the clinic), costs not covered by Medicare, excess from the hospital etc etc.

    More food for thought....


  11. #11
    Registered User

    Jan 2005
    Mooroolbark, VIC

    Keen - I totally hear you re: people's responses. I continually get "When the time is right it'll happen." And I put on a smiling face and say, "Yeah I know."
    What they don't understand is that if I had just "waited for the time to be right" I would have never gotten pg - as DH and I have been told that is virtually impossible for us naturally.
    I also think: well was the time right for that young girl, unmarried and unable to support her child when she got pg? Or was the time right for that heroin addict I saw at work who cares more about her drugs than her children?
    I think you have to be proactive and MAKE the time right!!

    Sorry - I'm totally off the topic but needed to get that out........phew, I feel better now.

  12. #12
    Registered User

    Sep 2004

    Sometimes we just have to vent, Carrie, so go for it! Like I said its not only the relationship with your DH/DP that gets effected with IVF or even problems with infertility in general. IVF only adds to the stress, but there is often already strains and stress as a result of problems with conceiving anyway.

    Ive found that all relationships in your life can be effected, even if they dont know about IVF, even if its simply because you have difficulty talking to people who fall pg at the drop of a hat....

    Anyway.... as my dad would have said "Keen, you get that!"


  13. #13
    Registered User

    Feb 2005

    Keen - thanks, the counsellor was very helpful. I've been to a couple of them so far but I think she was the best. I'll be going back to talk to her again when things feel like they're getting a little too much.

    You and Carrie were talking about people's responses - I think you can work out within the first five seconds of telling someone about your situation whether they will be helpful or not. Some people are great. They immediately seem to have a feel for things and just offer their support. Others immediately feel the need to offer a platitude or tell you some bull**** miracle conception story that doesn't help at all. I know that sounds a bit harsh but I think all I'm really wanting from people is acknowledgement. I'm not asking them to solve the problem and make it all better.

    Perhaps it is part of my ultra-pragmatic (some would say pessimistic) outlook on life which doesn't lend itself to high hopes very easily. During this whole journey, there were a couple of incidents that marked a turning point for me. The first was going to see Lyndon Hale. That meant that something concrete was actually being done which did wonders for my mental state. The second was reading a book which explained in popular science terms the reasons why conception is actually quite difficult to achieve. I realised then that it was probably my eggs which were letting things down (I still don't know that for sure) but it made sense and finally I stopped blaming myself.

    Hayseed - you certainly sound very organised with the money. I have a little stashed away but like I said, it is mainly Jeff who is worried about it. I know that if I have to find money, I will because it just has to be done. I agree that it is a shock for people to realise that they have to come up with the money up front and THEN try to get it back from Medicare. I don't know why a better system can't be organised. Since that threshold thing was introduced, I notice that I seem to be getting more back from them. I think the laparoscopy put me over the line last year so that was very convenient.

    Actually I have fewer gripes with Medicare than with Medibank Private. Seems like they don't want to pay for much at all!

    Carrie - I know what you mean about the sort of people who seem to be having kids at the drop of a hat. Man, it is hard to look at people like my next door neighbours who don't give a stuff about the two kids they have and have just managed to have a third. It's really frustrating.

  14. #14
    Registered User

    Jun 2004


    very interesting comment about people that feel the need to offer some great "quick fix" to us long TTCers. Very true that we are often just after acknowledgement and support rather for them to fix the situation. After all, if a lay person could fix it and make us pregnant, we wouldn't be seeing a specialist!!!


  15. #15
    Registered User

    Feb 2005

    True Hayseed! I've found that sometimes the weight of knowledge is too much for some people to bear.

    I think I read somewhere that you had decided not to tell work what was going on? Correct me if I'm wrong. Well after Christmas I thought long and hard about it and in the end decided that I needed to tell my supervisor at the very least. She took it very well. I told her what was going on and she was very interested and asked me questions. She said she had no idea that I had been going through this. I told her that I wasn't making excuses for myself but I thought she ought to know because sometimes I find it hard to feel normal, let alone cheerful.

    In the end I was glad I'd told her. Now I feel much less anxious if I'm running late because of appointments or whatever. It's taken the load right off.

    Of course I understand that not many people are lucky enough to work with understanding colleagues. =)