Going through infertility can make you feel like you’re going crazy – the emotional rollercoaster, the stress (medical, financial etc.) and of course the meds! Anyone who has ever gone through any form of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) such as IVF or IUI knows what I’m talking about. But a recent article opens up the dialogue stating that all the stress and medication issues may not be the fault of your IVF cycle.
So I was recently surfing the web and on Yahoo I came across an article by Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy,, “5 Myths About IVF You Need To Stop Believing.” The article focused on Dr. Lisa Hasty, a reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist and her take on debunking 5 common beliefs about IVF medication. It tackles the idea of whether or not the infertility meds are really to blame for all your erratic behavior and stress. Per the article, a new study in Oxford’s journal Human Reproduction discredits the theory that the drugs are to blame and explains that women who exhibit neurotic tendencies before treatment will maintain that state during treatment, and those who do not, will not.
Another way to put it … no it’s not the Clomid (or insert drug of your choice here: Menopur, Gonal-F etc), it is you! WTF?!?!
To be honest, I think I agree. While I’m not a doctor and have no basis to form any theories, save for my own experience, I have to think that IVF drugs aren’t all that bad and may not make you crazy. Dr. Hasty states that most IVF meds are typically estrogen-heavy and that Estrogen is a “happy hormone”. Therefore during an IVF cycle, you might feel like you have a bit more pep in your step. Sounds good to me.
But that being said, perhaps your infertility is the one time in your life to milk it and blame drugs for your erratic behavior. So go ahead and have yourself a pity party – – get it out of your system. Isn’t that one of the upsides for having to go through this crap that you at least get a carte blanche to be crazy??? But let’s all remember that you DO NEED TO STOP eventually.
OK, back to the article . . . I should note here that Dr. Hasty states that not all infertility medication is created equal. Something like Clomid, a common drug used during timed intercourse or IUI, has been proven to cause depression and hot flashes in a percentage of women. (Wow, what a combo!! Not only do you run the risk of being seriously sad, but also you can continuously sweat during the whole process while you pray you get pregnant this time. Ummm… sign me up for that, please?)
But what about those “emotional symptoms?” Despite the potential side effects that Dr. Hasty lays out (whether depressed or happy), she also takes the position that the medication may not be the reason why you experience any emotional symptoms. I personally can buy into this one. She states, “… but just because patients experience anxiety about their IVF treatment doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed an emotionally difficult experience…” She notes that most of her patients who knew what to expect in a cycle (inclusive of all the appointments, how to administer drugs etc) handled their IVF cycles well.
So if you’re prepared going into your cycle, what could lead to depression? Dr. Hasty and I appear to wholeheartedly agree here. Dr. Hasty notes that talking about your feelings and experiences can provide tremendous relief. Similarly, the drum that I continuously beat on this blog is that IVF is a rollercoaster, a different emotional rollercoaster than all those months when you were trying to get pregnant the old fashioned way. Things may not go as planned and are out of your control. How do you keep your head above water and not totally losing it? A support system.
So where does that leave us? Are drugs good or bad for your mental state? I guess that depends – do you need an excuse to be depressed about your infertility? If so, then go ahead and blame the drugs. But let’s just remember that it’s probably just best to open up the dialogue, take the shame out of dealing with infertility and try and add some levity to the situation. People can understand what you’re going through and if they can’t you need to find someone who can. They will be your pillars of strength and help you from falling into the crazy zone.