Mental health 2 x failed ICSI IVF - Fertility Network UK

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Mental health 2 x failed ICSI IVF


Hi 👋

Was just wondering if anyone had any advice on mental health and coping after failed treatments

Had 2 cycles of ICSI IVF and been ttc for 4 years now and never been pregnant

Mental health has suffered after the 2nd failed attempt last year and can’t seem to feel better

Any advice or stories would be greatly received x

34 Replies

I saw a psychotherapist, not a specific one for fertility but one I had access to through my work. I felt it was helpful as a way to develop the coping strategies I already had whilst I waited for my next steps. I also found having a plan very helpful- for us it was a final round of ivf and then adoption. We went to an adoption information evening which was useful, but I’m now 27 weeks pregnant from that final round of ivf.


Second counselling.

Thanks both. I have had 10 sessions of therapy through my private health cover towards the end of last year. It was CBT related but I didn’t really find it very helpful

I took sertraline for 5 months and found it to be of some help although had some negative side effects so weened off on Docs advice around 5 weeks ago.

Lizzielizzielizze congratulations!! We have started the adoption process but had to put it on hold as we are renovating our house at the moment and can’t continue on that road until all the work isn’t done as they need to do a house assessment x

I wonder whether CBT is the most useful strategy for infertility. There are other types of therapy that might be worth trying if you’re up for it xx

Oh and can you access any online adoption training whilst you are getting the house done? When I went to the alternative families show someone there was talking about being able to do training online as part of the preparation x

Thanks for the responses

We were told that we need “more interaction” with young children. Might sound stupid, but in my circle of close friends we have never had children and now one is pregnant. My sister (I was adopted- long story) has two young kids but we live opposite ends of the country and barely speak so very little “interaction” is an issue apparently. Did anyone say that to you? Also if we do decide to give IVF another go we have to wait til 6 months after that to even start the adoption again x

I’m an infant teacher and we have small children in our close family so we weren’t really in a similar position, I know that’s not helpful to hear. Did they have any suggestions about how you go about gaining more interaction? If you have any time off during the week maybe you could think about volunteering in a school nursery or similar?

Yes that’s exactly what they suggested so that the plan in January when we start again after the house is sorted xx

I listened to meditation on you tube nightly and had reflexology for the stress. Reflexology was amazing. But I’d definitely consider counselling.x

OlsonM in reply to Noobs

Thanks 😊

I’ve got an app called headspace that has a bit of that stuff on but I could just never really get into it. I don’t know if it’s just me or maybe it’s not for everyone??x

Noobs in reply to OlsonM

Yeah I tried that too and didn’t like it. I searched on you tube for sleep meditation and persevered with it for a while. Now I listen every couple of night and can actually relax quickly. Hope you find something that helps you.x

OlsonM in reply to Noobs

Funnily enough sleep is one thing that doesn’t get effected too much. Personally I think it’s because I fall asleep to the tv so my mind isn’t left to think. I struggle to sleep if I just get into bed and try and sleep straight away

Really good advice, thank you x

Noobs in reply to OlsonM

No probs.xx

Your clinic should offer fertility counselling as part of the package. Maybe go back and ask them about it. This whole thing is so difficult. I have been on the ivf journey for 4 years now. It took me so long to gel in between sessions. Wishing you all the best xxx

OlsonM in reply to Camillage

Thank you 😊

Yes we are 4 years into our ttc journey now. Trying to decide if we can afford the 3rd round. My main concern is that they say “unexplained fertility” yet 2 failed treatments in no further answers. What more can they do than what they have?!x

We paid a lot of money for more tests and did get answers, but it really was a lot of money. We felt like paying for another round of ivf without having the tests was throwing good money after bad though. My story is in my previous posts and the tests we had were Chicago tests level one and two.

Never heard of those will look them up thank you. I feel like I don’t want to spend more money unless it’s warranted like you said. Will I find out £££ online?x

I guess most fertility clinics would have a price list for tests but I don’t know if it would be online.

I find refuge in Buddhist philosophy. I have read books by Pena Chodron and Tara Brach and been meditating daily. I know this is the way to go for me. I’m so sorry about your failed cycles. The experience of infertility is certainly extremely hard. I hope you find the way that can reduce your suffering xxx

OlsonM in reply to Kari55

Thank you

Really pleased you have found what works for you and thank you for the advice x

Do you have a support network of other women going through this? Have you been to any support groups. I would definitely recommend finding something like that if you can. It’s so important and helpful xx

OlsonM in reply to Forlove

I started an Instagram account last night (I don’t do Facebook) just for Infertility etc etc and I’ve found that helpful even in just 24 hours. I don’t physically know anyone who has gone through this in my circle of friends. I know of people but I guess that’s different x

Forlove in reply to OlsonM

I’m waitingforbabyc_ on instagram x

OlsonM in reply to Forlove

Oh wow! I think I follow you already. Infertility_and_Me_1985 X

Hi OlsonM, it’s so hard being on this journey and I totally know how you have felt. I have been on this journey for 5 yrs - 4 miscarriages and one failed ivf now considering donor eggs. It takes time for you to emotionally cope with everything that’s going on- it affects your work, your relationship with your partner and your whole life- I wasn’t coping very well after my 3rd miscarriage and went to counselling- it really helped, until my next one happened! I have turned to 5 elements acupuncture,it’s not the traditional type of acupuncture but you can definitely feel the stress,,tension lift from your body almost immediately. It does wear off of course but I am definitely finding it my lifeline - as well as one of the other ladies said - having a plan of the next steps rather than being in limbo. Pm me if you would like more info. Look after yourself and make sure you talk to someone - whoever it is as bottling up feelings isn’t good - or even writing stuff down on paper I find helps too. All the best and I hope the cloud lifts very soon for you. I think this process makes us all a lot more resilient women, don’t be too hard on yourself, do things you have always enjoyed doing and concentrate on yourself for a little while- then make a plan. Wishing you all the best.

OlsonM in reply to londonrc

Thank you - such a lovely message.

So sorry to hear about your journey 😥

I haven’t ever achieved a pregnancy in the 4 years we have been ttc. Misscarrying must be awful, I honestly can’t imagine.

I’ve had acupuncture for other medical things with my back and found it very unhelpful. Also my phobia of needles doesn’t help!! Again I wonder if like meditation, is it something that some people just can’t seem to get their heads into? Really pleased that you are finding it works for you!

I never realised the effects of the treatments till about part way through my 2nd cycle. I’m not one of these women who always wanted to be a mum. I only decided about 7 years ago I wanted a family, a couple of years after I met my husband. We decided to have some “us” time and get married and then started the ball rolling (so to speak). For some reason I always thought I would find it more difficult but said I would never do IVF as if it wasn’t meant to be then that’s it. How wrong I was!! We tried for a year with nothing then I was sent for all the tests possible and came up with nothing. Then IVF was mentioned. As I said we did two cycles and had successful transfers both times but they couldn’t “select” the best embryo as each time we only had one xx

Good grief. Firstly give yourself a massive pat on the back for being such an incredibly strong woman and getting this far. You have been through an awful lot so it's no wonder your mental health is suffering. I've been TTC for 18 months and it's been an incredibly stressful process (physically and mentally) and just recently I thought I was heading for a mental break down if I didn't sort out my head. Given you are 4 years down the line, I salute your resilience.

My advice, echoes everything that has already been said:

-Get some counselling. Lots of people have said this. I personally think it's useful to go to someone with fertility knowledge. The medical centre / hospital should have given you counselling but if it's not included in your plan / cycle, I'm sure they will have access to them. You said that you have had CBT but was this specific to fertility I wonder?

-I second meditation. I do this every day without fail. Whether it's CALM, Headspace or just listening to some relaxing music it needs to be done every day. Your head needs to be able to shut off from all the noise. Just 10-15 mins (more if you can spare) but just whatever you can fit in to your day.

-I've had a lot of fertility accupuncture which has helped with the stress levels and they will treat me throughout my IVF cycle. If you're not keen on that idea then reflexology or massage? Something just to help you relax.

-Focus on the house renovations. If you can't adopt at the mo anyway because of the house then you can throw yourself into getting your house just perfect. This gives your head some time off from fertility worry and more time to focus on soft furnishings :-)

The very fact that you have addressed the issue on here is a massive step forward. Thinking of you and keep us posted.


OlsonM in reply to hifer

Thank you! Again such a lovely message

Really is helpful to hear peoples stories. I’ve read lots of these “blog” type things over the years but never ever posted anything.

18 months is still a long time and definitely enough to effect your mental health. Baby dust and fingers crossed for you!

My main frustration is the “unexplained” part. Even today I went to the GP after my mini meltdown yesterday and they just gave me sertraline again! I explained my frustration and I was just told “sometimes they just don’t know” again!!

I understand they don’t always know but surely there’s more that should be done to find out?! Otherwise why ask me to pay 10’s of thousands to have treatment t but not know what they are treating? Sorry that was a bit of a rant!

Do you know the reasons for your struggle?

I’ve got the headspace app but can’t get to grips with it. I do listen to music a lot - all different kinds, but I find songs stuck in my head and go over and over

I have back problems so I can’t have massages (I’m told they are amazing!) and never really looked into reflexology. To be honest I’ve never really “believed” in holistic therapies

The house is so bad at the moment we can’t live there ha! But yes I’m focusing as much as possible on all the positives about it. Sometimes the mind just turns anything into a negative thought and even the great things get pushed to the back xx

hifer in reply to OlsonM

Oh yes, believe me I know how it feels when everything is negative!! It's very hard to see the wood for the trees. I have amazing friends and family who I talk to. At first I didn't want anyone to know what we were going through as it's so personal. However it's obviously been a while now and you have got to have an outlet so make sure that you are talking to someone. Now loads of people know and I feel like I can talk about it. Also people start to relate to you with their own struggles and experiences too which helps.

I couldn't get on with Headspace either (no idea why) which is why I downloaded an app called CALM which I love. Lots of tips about lifestyle, healthy eating, stress, relaxation etc. If you don't fancy that though then often I just listen to music without words (think spa music) which is also very calming. Then words wont get stuck in your head either. I very much believe in holistic therapies as a calming influence. I would have thought massages would be good if you had back problems?

We don't know why we can't get pregnant either. We've both been tested for everything and all fine. I am having a hysteroscopy tomorrow as my endometrium is perhaps a little thin (but maybe not!) and they are just seeing if there is anything else amiss. Are you happy with your clinic / care? I don't think we can give specifics on here about who we're being treating with but it's really important that you feel like all bases have been covered. The first hospital I went to for fertility treatment I really didn't get on with so I promptly went back to the GP and got referred to a hospital I wanted to go to and is near work. Obviously diet, exercise, weight etc etc are all key but I was starting to get obsessed with it all so now I'm just trying to be 'normal!' I totally totally understand your frustration.


OlsonM in reply to hifer

Thanks for the lovely message. Sorry to hear your in a similar situation. Hope the hysteroscopy goes well today though

Yes I’ve followed the CALM thing on instagram so I will give that a go. Music without words is also a good idea, thanks

Our close friends know about what’s happened and our immediate family but there’s only really my mum that understands as she struggled (I’m adopted) before eventually falling pregnant after failed IUI

I think the constant questions can be a bit much from friends sometimes- obviously they do it because they care but sometimes I don’t want it to be all I talk/think about and with each stage of the cycle having 10 people to update was stressful when sometimes all I wanted to do was speak to no one

We have considered not telling anyone if we do a 3rd round but I’m not sure if that would happen realistically

As for the massages yes generally they are good for a bad back but I have lots of metal work in my spine so it’s not as easy really. Can cause more pain than relaxation

I think we were happy with the clinic as in what we had heard etc but the admin side was a bit crap. Had to chase stuff up and call a lot. Not sure if it’s the same at every clinic but the end was always just tick this box on this piece of paper (pregnant or not pregnant) and send it in at the end. Then after that they wanted to know if you were having another cycle. I just feel like I can’t do more than the maximum drugs x

hifer in reply to OlsonM

Oh gosh I totally know what you mean about all the questions. It’s so hard and you don’t want to be quizzed all the time by everyone so you start not to tell people.

Yes totally agree re admin. Has been rubbish our side too!! So so hard stay strong.


OlsonM in reply to hifer


Nothing beats getting professional help but in the meant time or between appointments, I recommend the podcast Miracle Happen Fertility Podcast. It’s by a Dr / psychotherapist specializing in infertility... she herself went through the experience. She gives lots of techniques and tools to help with mental aspect of treatments

OlsonM in reply to abcgirl

Great, thank you x

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