“Why is everyone so irritating!” IVF down regulation can bring you down. Katy, 36, a magazine editor from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, shares her story.
Katy has a five-year-old son (conceived via a successful cycle of IVF with her former husband) but suffers from unexplained infertility. When she met her new partner J, who has no children of his own, she was very open about her wish to have more children and the fact she would probably need to have IVF again – and soon! Luckily that didn’t put him off – and they made an appointment at Bourn Hall’s Wickford clinic just a few months later …
Usually, I’m a pretty chirpy person
“I’m a glass-half-full-why-frown-when-you-could-smile kinda girl.
When I had appendicitis at 21, I was so cheerful my doctor almost didn’t send me to hospital for testing.
However, once a month this often dips for a couple of days. PMT frequently leaves me feeling a bit tearful and grumpy – though not to the extent that anyone, except my other half perhaps, would notice. Because I know why I’m feeling this way, I make a concerted effort not to make any big decisions or get too stuck in glumness.
The down regulation bit of IVF made me feel like this. Only about ten times worse and for a much longer period of time.
I haven’t been on the pill since I was 21 (aside from three weeks back in 2015 when I was put through the “mini menopause” for my first cycle of IVF).
And it’s probably just as well.”
Everything sets my teeth on edge
“Almost every day since swallowing my first Microgynon tablet, my irritation levels have been through the ceiling.
I’ve found myself questioning whether people have always been this annoying … or if it’s just the drugs?
I’ve tried to have an actual argument with my partner over what type of rose lemonade Waitrose stocked. I’ve cried about the fact I couldn’t find a top I didn’t even want to wear (it was in the washing machine!) and even my old favourite wind-down TV show (Interior Design Masters) has left me inexplicably raging at points.
Almost anything can trigger tears or a little rant.
Thankfully J has been very understanding. He’s realised that if he comes home with a bunch of flowers then that usually has the power to dispel even the horriblest of hormonal fugs.
And failing that, the delivery of a Chinese takeaway seems to sate the grumpy beast.
That said, I’m not sure who is looking forward to me being off the drugs more … me or him!”
Jackie Stewart, Independent Fertility Counsellor, says that partners often feel obsolete during treatment and may find it difficult to know how to help.
“Having spoken to hundreds of couples over the years, I have observed that men are often not aware of the physiological effects of the hormones used during treatment. They may misunderstand this and feel pushed away, whilst at the same time not want to see their loved one suffer.
That may not realise that it is the medication that is causing their partner to feel unwell or in discomfort, sleep deprived, bruised and bloated, but instead start to feel that they have said or done something wrong. They may try to second guess if something has happened to upset their partner. They may take the shift in their partner’s attitude personally, which can result in problems.
Hormone injections are not compatible with a general sense of well-being and may result in tiredness, tearfulness, wanting to isolate more, not wanting to socialise, insecurity, a reduced capacity to work and thereby a lack of confidence.
It can be likened to having someone living with you who is feeling unwell and fragile but there is nothing you can do. Men can feel helpless and unhappy because they do not have the power to make it better, increasing their own stress levels.
Partners often have different coping mechanisms; neither is wrong, but it can help partners to understand each other’s way of coping in order to bridge the gap and to find a compatible way forward through treatment. What helps one person to feel safe isn’t the same for another and so finding a way to compromise to meet each other’s needs, is a good conversation to have, to help both feel more peaceful.
If this is something that you are experiencing then some counselling can help and some sessions are free for Bourn Hall patients.”