- Women undergoing fertility treatment will at some point go through the beta wait, the time until a blood test result is obtained to confirm pregnancy.
- Up to 40% of these women suffer from high levels of stress that lead to bouts of anxiety. In fact, stress-related hormones can negatively affect the outcome of treatment.
- Specialists recommend not waiting to ask for psychological help, but rather combining this support from the beginning of treatment in order to have the tools to face this stage and avoid the progressive toll it takes.
Nerves, fears, endless waits… these concerns can undermine the hopes of women seeking pregnancy through assisted reproduction techniques. Whether alone or as a couple, one of the situations that generates most anxiety is the beta wait. That’s the time that passes from when the patient undergoes artificial insemination (or embryo transfer, in the case of in vitro fertilisation) until the day she obtains the result of the pregnancy test in the laboratory.
This is the colloquial name for it because pregnancy is confirmed by the presence of beta-hCG hormone in the blood. This period full of hope, which at the same time causes great anxiety in patients, usually lasts between 9 and 14 days, depending on when the transfer was performed.
To this, we must add that in most situations there is already a build-up of stress and an emotional toll, due to not being able to achieve pregnancy naturally, having to ask for help to find solutions, and of course, due to the impact of the diagnosis and infertility itself.
“The beta wait carries a high degree of emotional involvement, especially for the woman, as she carries this responsibility in a very individual way. It is understandable, as she goes from the first phase of the treatment with an established roadmap (punctures, consultations, etc.), to waiting times without knowing the result, which seem like forever and over which she has no control. Managing this level of stress is very important so that it affects day-to-day life and the process itself as little as possible”, explained Soledad Chamorro, psychologist at IVI Madrid.
When a person starts treatment, they visualise pregnancy as something idyllic, but if things start not to happen as expected, they become blocked and frustrated, and then the fears and apprehensions appear. Feeling fear in the face of uncertainty or the unknown is normal, but the problem arises when it is taken to an irrational level. Up to 40% of these women suffer from high levels of stress that lead to bouts of anxiety, feeling incapable of thinking about anything else or entering into the dynamic of brooding over negative thoughts… a whole roller coaster of emotions that, in addition to creating suffering for the woman, can end up taking its toll on the couple’s relationship or on their immediate environment.
“Therefore, it is important that the beta wait is a period in which we put in place resources that aim to achieve greater emotional well-being and thus also reduce the associated stress”, said the psychologist.
Guidelines for coping with the beta wait
In order to face this stage, it is essential to have tools in place to help us cope with this waiting period in the best possible way:
- Every woman is different. Analysing every detail of whether there is any physical sign that could indicate a possible pregnancy or constantly checking whether we are menstruating only makes us fall into very unhealthy obsessive behaviours.
- Avoid talking about it constantly. Talking about our feelings is good and necessary, as acknowledging feelings will help us to manage them, but we should not let these conversations monopolise our lives and cause us to overthink. This also applies to insistent questions from our friends and family.
- Engage in activities that help us to keep our minds occupied, and take us out of “our habitat”, even better if they are outdoors. In this way, we will encourage more optimistic thoughts and less despair.
- Trust the professionals who are treating you. Consulting the internet, on unreliable websites with information that is not scientifically proven, will only make this wait harder and anxiety will surface.
- Resist the temptation to do home tests. They are not recommended because they can give false positives or negatives that will lead us to have a preconceived idea of the lab result with the resulting impact on our state of mind.
- Focus on the present, the here and now. Thinking about “what if?” will only generate anxiety and discomfort, as our emotions are running high and it is difficult to reason at this time. Only by avoiding this vicious circle and letting time flow, we will live from day to day and the wait will be more bearable .
“Mental health is very important to start this journey; no patient should go through this process with an emotional overload that prevents her from functioning normally in her daily life. These are long processes that tend to wear us down, so it is important to see a professional when we see these episodes appear and they change our daily and social habits. In short, it is important to tackle them before they take their toll and discourage us even more”, explained Soledad.
In this sense, IVI offers all its patients a Psychology Unit for their emotional wellbeing during treatment, offering the necessary support and accompaniment throughout the process.