I'm too scared to have IVF - help!

Justine Davies
Justine Davies 

DH and I have one child and we have been trying to fall pregnant again for the last three years. We’ve run through the series of “natural” therapies such as acupuncture, diet, herbal additives and so on and now we are looking down the barrel of giving IVF a go.

The problem is that ever since I was a kid I have had a phobia about doctors and medical procedures – even getting a vaccination makes me weak in the legs. IVF is so invasive – I am seriously panicking about going down that path. And of course before we even start the IVF there are the medical tests that they want me to have. I don’t know if I can go through with it.

It just doesn’t seem fair that some people can fall pregnant so easily and others can’t. How come we could do it once and not again? We both desperately, desperately want another child but I just don’t know whether I can bring myself to do IVF. Maybe we should just be thankful that we have one child and leave it at that.

Has anyone else dreaded IVF but done it anyway, and was there anything that helped overcome the dread (I wondered whether I should try hypnotism?)


Hi KD,

What a difficult decision! Interestingly, secondary infertility (ie your situation, having had a child but having trouble being able to do it again) is more common than you may think. According to the Queensland Fertility Group their patients seeking treatment for Secondary Infertility have increased by 10% over the past 4 years. QFG’s Senior Fertility Nurse, Carmel Carrigan, sees women distressed by this condition every day.

“They are confused and angry about failing to conceive. They simply can’t get their head around why it isn’t working, when last time it happened all so easily,” she says. “And because quite often all the attention is placed on women having their first baby, women suffering from Secondary Infertility also feel guilty for expressing their dismay at not being able to have a second child when so many women out there can’t conceive at all.”

KD, the biggest thing that could help you overcome your fears is to talk to others. Michael Condon is a senior counsellor with the Brisbane branch of QFC and he encourages you to express your fears to people who can offer you support. “Keeping it totally private is the hardest way to deal with IVF,” he says. “If you are experiencing fears then seek out positive, supportive people who you can talk to. Depending on who you are more comfortable in talking to that may be friends and family, a counsellor, a medical practitioner or a support group. And of course don’t forget to talk openly with your partner as well.”

Michael also stressed the importance of seeking out people who will be supportive and positive rather than simply people keen to tell you their own personal horror story! “Sometimes I liken starting IVF to standing on the side of a cliff with a parachute, ready to do a base jump,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you’ve never done that jump or done it one hundred times, you’re still scared. Having a positive attitude though can work wonders for how you will cope.”

“IVF does involve the medical procedures; the injections, ultrasounds and having a general anaesthetic, but I have been counselling patients since 1987 and you know – most people do get through it just fine. Get yourself a good medico and a good clinic who can provide you with all the information that you need – both the general information and your specific information. Having full information about what is going to happen – what the process is going to be – will help to remove some of your fear. Then once you have all that information, take it one day at a time. IVF is not a breeze; it’s hard work. But having all the information will give you the confidence to give it a try, and taking it day by day will help you to cope.”

KD – good luck with your decision.

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