IVF

Episode 101 IVF versus PTSD

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Hello everyone! Welcome back to Childless not by Choice, where my mission is to recognize and speak to childless not by choice women and men around the world. Civilla Morgan here. I am spreading the great news that we can live a joyful, relevant, and fulfilled life, although we did not have the children we so wanted. I am also reaching out to everyone who recognizes that we are not all living the same type of life.

Welcome to episode 101!

 

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Well, I would like to give a special shout-out to Dr. Cristina Archetti, Oslo, Norway, for suggesting an episode on the connection between IVF and PTSD. I have put a link to her YouTube video in the show notes. We connected after I watched her video on YouTube, entranced that someone created a video all about the childless not by choice experience. Thank you, Dr. Cristina!

 

Content:

For people with PTSD, it is very common for their memories to be triggered by sights, sounds, smells, or even feelings that they experience. These triggers can bring back memories of the trauma and cause intense emotional and physical reactions, such as raised heart rate, sweating and muscle tension.–Google

So, what is PTSD–post-traumatic stress syndrome? I think we generally believe we know what it is, whether we have experienced it ourselves due to direct experience, know someone who has it, or watched a movie where someone exhibited it. As with most issues, diseases, experiences these days; we are familiar with it on some level.

But here is a clinical definition:

‘Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) describes a series of predictable symptoms that take hold once a patient has survived – or in some cases witnessed – a severely traumatic or life-threatening event. Because the brain becomes overwhelmed by the pain and fear of the trauma, memories of the event do not fully process, causing the individual to re-experience the trauma as if it were occurring in the present.’–theoakstreatment.com.

They go on to say that ‘Signs of PTSD can range from flashbacks to nightmares, panic attacks to eating disorders and cognitive delays to lowered verbal memory capacity. Many trauma survivors also encounter substance abuse issues, as they attempt to self-medicate the negative effects of PTSD. Most mental health professionals and diagnostic manuals agree on 17 major signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Just as not every trauma survivor will develop PTSD, not every individual with PTSD will develop the same signs – and rarely do all 17 exist in one individual.’ Wow, 17 signs of PTSD, I did not know that!   

Also discussed on the website are:

Signs of Re-experiencing Trauma in PTSD
Trauma Avoidance Signs of PTSD
Hyperarousal Signs of PTSD–i.e. One PTSD symptom associated with hyperarousal is insomnia.
The Importance of PTSD Treatment
PTSD Medication–as I read up on the PTSD Medications, I recognized one. Most people would probably recognize it if I mentioned it. It never occurred to me that anyone experiencing childlessness not by choice could possibly be experiencing or have experienced PTSD.
Well, my OB/GYN had wanted to prescribe this medication to me for the longest time, but I always said no because of the negative perception attached to that medication. However one day I went for a follow-up visit and out of the clear blue started crying.
He seemed surprised and said that he knew I had turned down the prescription before but that he had never seen me cry throughout my entire ordeal. He wrote the prescription, I held onto it for a week or so, trying to figure out what to do. And then I filled it. There. I think you may be the first person I had ever told.
But what does PTSD have to do with IVF? Well, first let’s make sure we are all on the same page with what IVF is, exactly, and for the purposes of this episode, I will not go into causes of childlessness not by choice except to say in a nutshell, it is when a couple just cannot conceive naturally for any number of reasons.
I want to talk more along the lines of what goes into the action of IVF, and how it relates to PTSD. So here, In a nutshell, according to a Google search is the definition of IVF: a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body.’

But back to PTSD for a moment:

As I did my research, I had a burning question: Can PTSD be cured? We all want a cure, right? We don’t necessarily want to live with negativity or the results of a negative experience for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, there are some instances where we will have to live with the effects or after-effects of a life event. In the case of PTSD,  research says ‘As with most mental illnesses, no cure exists for PTSD, but the symptoms can be effectively managed to restore the affected individual to normal functioning. The best hope for treating PTSD is a combination of medication and therapy.’

Two similar therapies I found to help people with PTSD are CBT–cognitive behavioral therapy, ‘a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression.’ And CPT–’Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) is a manualized therapy used by clinicians to help people recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions. It includes elements of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatments.’

Slight differences in the two. Clinicians may find the differences a little more than slight, but they seem very similar to me.  

So, IVF, how can it cause PTSD?

General knowledge is that only 25% of attempts at IVF is successful. 25%! According to a 2017 article in theconversation.com, that success rate is actually 33%. That’s still a relatively low number. In this same article, they say that there is now a way for women using IVF to get pregnant to know the likelihood of success. Quote: ‘Overall, for women starting IVF, 33% have a baby as a result of their first cycle, increasing to 54-77% by the eighth cycle.’  The eighth cycle?! Many insurance plans do not cover IVF on the first cycle nevermind the eight. Eight. I have a question for you: Is there a point where it becomes too many tries, whether you have the money or not?

OK, IVF:

‘In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).’–Americanpregnancy.org

 

 Some side effects after IVF may include:

  • Passing a small amount of fluid (may be clear or blood-tinged) after the procedure
  • Mild cramping
  • Mild bloating
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness

‘Women who undergo fertility treatments may find the situation so distressing that they develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study says.

In the study, close to 50 percent of participants met the official criteria for PTSD, meaning they could be diagnosed with the condition.

That’s about six times higher than the percentage of people in the general population who suffer from PTSD (8 percent.)’https://www.livescience.com/22194-fertility-treatment-ptsd.html

Additional information I found out about the possible dangers of IVF:

  1. Possibly linked to cancer

2) Multiple births. …
3) Premature delivery and low birth weight. …
4) Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome:
Rapid weight gain — such as 33 to 44 pounds (15 to 20 kilograms) in five to 10 days.
5) Severe abdominal pain.
6) Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting.
7) Blood clots in legs.
8) Decreased urination.
9) Shortness of breath.
10) Tight or enlarged abdomen.
11) Miscarriage. …
12) Egg-retrieval procedure complications. …
13) Ectopic pregnancy. …
14) Birth defects. …
15) Ovarian cancer.

Links used for research:

PTSD:

https://theoakstreatment.com/ptsd/signs-and-symptoms/


http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/08/13184349-fertility-treatments-may-put-women-at-risk-for-ptsd-symptoms-study-suggests?lite

https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/641243?journalCode=ssr

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-are-treatments-for-posttraumatic-stress-disorder#1

(https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa040603

IVF:

http://theconversation.com/women-now-have-clearer-statistics-on-whether-ivf-is-likely-to-work-81256

http://americanpregnancy.org/infertility/in-vitro-fertilization/

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/ivf-treatment-cambridge-nhs-13465755

https://www.livescience.com/22194-fertility-treatment-ptsd.html

https://www.winfertility.com/risks-ivf-six-rare-complications-ivf-treatment/

https://www.infertilitytexas.com/blog/is-there-a-link-between-ivf-and-cancer

 

Articles and podcast episodes mentioned in this episode:

https://childlessnotbychoice.net/triggers-how-to-recognize-them-face-them-and-deal-with-them/

https://childlessnotbychoice.net/episode-68-is-childlessness-a-crisis-caplans-theory-of-crisis/

https://reprotechtruths.org/ivf-trauma/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XcAzx0jlhI&t=9s

Special thank you to:

Morgan Air Conditioning. Morgan Air can be reached by calling

813 500 7765. Their email address is www. Morganair.net.

Along with a stellar business reputation in the Tampa, FL area, Morgan Air is also known and well received for giving back to the Tampa, FL community whether it is back to school drives or donating services to the less fortunate. Thank you Morgan Air for recognizing the vision of Childless not by Choice, and being a part of it!

Devoted, the musical duo who created my theme music. Thank you Devoted, for the beautiful theme music we use here at Childless not by Choice. Devoted has had the opportunity to sing and play in many countries. To learn more about Devoted, visit their website at http://www.devotedministry.org.

My contact information:
info@civillamorgan.com
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Thank you for listening to this episode of Childless not by Choice.


Until next time! Bye!

‘To recognize and speak to the broken hearts of childless not by choice women, and men, around the world.’

 

‘Spreading the great news that we can live a joyful, relevant, and fulfilled life’.

 

image courtesy of Google Images

My Childlessness Is Not My Fault

It may seem that way, as I am using the possessive adjective to describe the fact that I am childless. That my life did not turn out the way I expected it would. But the more important issue is that human beings tend to blame each other for things we cannot control. My childlessness is not my fault.

If you are a Bible reader, you may recall the story of the man with the shriveled or withered hand. The Disciples asked Jesus if it was his parent’s fault or his, why his hand was withered. Jesus’ answer was ‘it’s nobody’s fault.’

Be honest, have you never wondered to yourself ‘what in the world did he/she do to deserve that?’ when you see something bad, horrible, or horrific happen to someone. You may have even heard someone verbalize it as ‘karma’, or ‘what goes around comes around’. As human beings, we figure it’s just payback.

But isn’t it possible that stuff just happens? Don’t we live in a world where stuff really just happens? I believe we do. Yes, I believe to an extent that what goes around comes around. That we should treat people the way we would want to be treated. But we all know that it rains on the just and the unjust. The difference though is how we manage the cards we have been dealt. In fact, having or obtaining the tools for managing the cards we have been dealt.   

three women

I believe one of those tools for any problem or issue you or I have, is community. I strongly believe that when we belong to a community of strong, positive, people who want to get better and not wallow in the self-pity of what happened to us or what did not happen for us.  Community protects us from those who secretly or passive-aggressively nicely tell us that we did not pray hard enough for a child. Some of us are told not to give up even though we no longer have a uterus. Indeed, some are told so even when they were born without one. I especially like the ‘well, it was not meant to be’. It is one of my favorites. Right up there with ‘you should be happy you don’t have kids, they are a lot of work’. These are the same people who tell you that ‘you don’t have kids, so you would not understand.’

And sometimes these remarks come from the lips of the same person. ‘Be glad you don’t have kids, they are a lot of work’, and ‘you wouldn’t understand, you don’t have kids.’  Which one of us seems unhinged? Because unhinged, among other things, is what many childless women are called. And God forbid if we are also single. Then we are weird, overzealous with our nieces and nephews, lonely, clingy, needy, or mean.

Society says that’s why we did not get married or have children: We chose the career over the kid, or as a friend of my mom once told her, I was too picky. Mind you, this woman couldn’t pick me out in a crowd. She knew nothing about me, but she knew I was being too picky and that is why I never married. 

Well, regardless of the cards we have been dealt, I believe we can all be weird, overzealous with the children in our lives, clingy, needy, picky, or mean! After all, we are all human beings first, and none of us are what has happened to us or what did not happen for us, however.  

 

So the next time your initial response is to blame someone for their ‘condition’, do a quick self-check and remind yourself ‘it’s not my fault it’s not your fault. Stuff happens.’  How we deal our cards is what sets us apart.

A Brave New Ending

Our long and bumpy road of infertility began 9 years ago. After numerous tests and failed treatments, IVF was our only hope of conceiving. In 2015, the procedure was successful. Early in the twin pregnancy, one of our embryos stopped developing, however, subsequent ultrasounds revealed a strong heartbeat with the second.  Our prayers had finally been answered and our dream of having a child was becoming a reality. At nearly 10 weeks, the doctor uttered the words no one ever wants to hear, “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat.”

 

Overwhelmed with grief, and so many other unnamed emotions, the months and years that have followed haven’t been easy. No one is ever really prepared for how to cope with loss. It’s not something that is taught in school and in most families, not discussed openly. Men and women grieve differently and we would soon learn, these strong emotions began to manifest in different ways.  

In the months prior to IVF, I made it my mission to prepare my body for pregnancy the best I could. It was almost like training for a marathon. My regimen included an anti-inflammatory diet and numerous vitamins and supplements. I felt strong and hopeful and started a blog to share my journey and encourage others struggling to conceive. 

Soon after the loss, that feeling of hope began to fade. Between the IVF medications and miscarriage, the hormonal roller coaster was unrelenting. I no longer felt I had a reason to focus on my health. There was nothing to look forward to and feelings of apathy set in. Not sure how to help me through this emotional struggle, my husband did the best he could to be supportive and loving, while dealing with his own feelings of grief. He often found solace in lone fishing trips and spending time with nature.

Three years later, drawing strength from our faith in God and each other, the healing process continues to be a work in progress. Anyone who has experienced loss will tell you it changes you. We soon realized this life-changing event was stressful on our marriage. Communication has been key and we are both learning how to lean into the pain and allow ourselves to be vulnerable and honest about our emotions with one another.

By reading and studying emotional resilience, grief, and loss, we have started on a new path of healing by embracing and reckoning with the painful scars that infertility has left behind. Facing a lifetime of childlessness, we are rumbling through the middle of the messy emotions. Grief has no timeline and no one really knows how long the rumble will last.

While life hasn’t turn out the way we had planned, our story isn’t over and we are hopeful for the future. We are learning to flip the script and write a brave new ending. One where it’s okay to be sad and joyful, to grieve a painful loss and embrace the wonders of life with gratitude and most importantly, together.