Most couples report that they have experienced changes in their mood when they have undergone IVF treatment. For men, in particular, there is the assumption that these changes are caused solely due to hormonal changes. While in many cases, this is true, it is not a conclusion that any doctor or medical professional at our clinic would immediately assume. There are several potential causes of this, and we will look at many of them in this article.
As a high-tech fertility clinic in Bangkok, we always conduct comprehensive tests to establish what has caused mood changes. In many cases, these alterations can be treated with medication or, alternatively, may take a few weeks to correct themselves naturally. If you or your partner has noticed significant mood changes, you should discuss them with your doctor at your next appointment.
Hormonal mood changes caused by IVF treatment
Occasionally, women may undergo what is called “natural cycle in vitro fertilisation”, but most women will require a series of injections to stimulate the follicles and injections to regulate ovulation. The amount of hormones that are needed along with the frequency of the injection varies with each individual. The shots are painless but will cause significant hormonal imbalances, which doctors will monitor.
Along with the injections, most women will require some oral medication, which will again vary. These are designed to cause hormonal changes, leading to the woman feeling emotional and suffering mood swings and hot flushes. The side effects vary from mild to severe and tend to be worse in women who experience significant premenstrual tension.
As in the case with regular menstrual cycles, a change in hormonal activity can alter moods. The extent to which this occurs will vary from person to person, but most women experience “mood swings”. It is typically caused by the hormone injections, which are designed to cause ovarian hyperstimulation. Most couples report that the most significant mood changes, not surprisingly, occur at the start of treatment and subside after pregnancy.
The male partner should be supportive and understanding during this period, acknowledging that if his partner is feeling any additional stress, it may reduce the chances of pregnancy occurring. The process of IVF is not natural for the body, so there will be some resistance to it. Both partners should prepare themselves for mood changes to occur before treatment begins.
Indirect hormonal factors affecting mood
IVF frequently causes women to experience body changes, typically gaining weight after receiving hormone injections. Weight changes can be upsetting for some women, especially those that are “body-conscious” and may cause unhappiness and, in some cases, mild depression. The changes can happen very rapidly, and most patients are surprised! Unfortunately, pregnancy does lead to a natural increase in weight, so the potential mothers should not dwell on the fact.
An additional indirect problem causing mood changes could be a feeling of discomfort such as bloating. Pain is known to increase irritability, although the bloating should pass following the next period. If you do feel any unusual discomfort, you should tell your doctor immediately. In most cases, it is nothing to worry about, but the worry can again lead to mood changes. Talking to your partner is essential, and you should be strong and supportive of each other.
Increased tiredness and appetite
Women that undergo IVF treatment will all have their own unique experiences, although some things are more common than others. Changes in appetite and feeling increasingly tired can also have an impact on moods. Medication can be prescribed to treat the cause of either tiredness or increased appetite. In most cases, we would advise against this and attribute it to the body’s natural response to hormonal changes and pregnancy.
Feeling distracted or suffering from poor concentration
Another common side effect that patients frequently experience is what is sometimes referred to as “pregnancy brain”. Expectant mothers struggle to focus on things that had previously been of the utmost importance, such as their career and taking care of other family members. Struggling to concentrate and being entirely focused on the pregnancy is standard, particular with couples who have struggled to conceive. Not surprisingly, when it does happen, it becomes their sole focus. Most medical professionals would describe this as a behavioural change rather than merely a change in mood.
IVF treatment, including the lead up when the couple were experiencing fertility problems, is an incredibly stressful period for both partners. Tensions and emotions are likely to be running high with so much resting on a positive outcome. It is common for both partners to blame themselves or each other, leading to emotional stress. With financial pressures along with potential problems regarding work thrown into the mix, it is not surprising that both parties frequently experience changes in mood.
At First Fertility, we do all we can to help couples cope with and prepare for this stress. It is vital that before commencing treatment, both partners are happy, and every effort should be made to keep stress to a minimum to increase the chances of becoming pregnant. Having a strong support network around you from the very beginning is invaluable, and we always emphasise this point to couples from the outset.
Unfortunately, some couples do experience disappointment after undergoing IVF treatment. It is possible that they fail to conceive or that the baby is lost during the pregnancy. It is a heartbreaking situation for both partners, with some handling the disappointment well and others to a lesser degree. We always recommend that couples seek professional counselling if they find themselves in this situation, and the partners should support each other. Where possible, the couple should consider trying another course of treatment, although in some cases, this is not possible.
IVF treatment can potentially cause significant changes in mood that can be attributed to a number of factors. Where possible, couples should expect and prepare for this to make dealing with the eventuality easier.