Only 44 per cent of In vitro fertilisation (IVF) specialists on average in Delhi and Mumbai offer psychological counselling to couples despite being aware of the extreme stress faced by them during the process. At least 72 per cent of doctors in Delhi and 81 per cent in Mumbai said they were aware of the stress faced by their patients, but do not offer counselling.” This was found in a survey commissioned by non-government organisation HEAL Foundation that interviewed couples undergoing IVF treatment and doctors involved in offering the treatment.

The survey also noted that more than 60 per cent of the couples undergoing IVF therapy said psychological support offered by the IVF centres was not sufficient.

“Psychologically counselling has been recommended by the World Health Organisation for couples undergoing IVF. Infertility is a profoundly stressful experience that strikes at the very core of the individual and couples experiencing it. Psychological counselling helps patients keep a positive attitude and relieve the anxiety,” said Gaudium IVF and Gynae Solutions director Dr. Manika Khanna.

“The positive attitude reduces levels of stress and the risk of depression, which facilitate in increasing the odds of getting pregnant. Therefore it is recommended that every IVF centre should provide psychological expert counselling to the ‘infertile' couples,” added Dr. Khanna.

Experts world over have noted that one of the most difficult aspects of IVF treatment for many couples is the ‘emotional turmoil' that they go through concerning the outcomes of the treatment. Psychological counselling and stress management is instrumental for patient's emotional and mental support, which is an important component of improving the chances of getting pregnant.

Delhi Psychiatry Centre director Dr. Sunil Mittal concurs with these views. “Couples undergoing assisted reproduction suffer from significant psychological distress including depression and other related medical problems and in most cases this negatively impact IVF treatment success rates. There are many studies and researches that support these facts. There is a great need for psychological expert counselling of infertile couples before and during the treatment as it correlates with better treatment outcomes.”

The survey has recommended that a standardised psychological counselling module should be followed in all the IVF centres across the country.

“The potential for psychological interventions in reducing stress, decreasing drop-out behaviour, and increasing clinical pregnancy rates in individuals undergoing IVF treatment is very evident. Initiatives recommend- ing such intervention should be followed in all IVF centres and it is definitely the way forward as far as restoring a feeling of hope for the future and improving the IVF treatment outcome is concerned,” noted HEAL Foundation member Vikesh Khetrapal.