Infertility is a trying experience and can get the best of even the strongest people. In fact, many couples rate in vitro fertilization (IVF) as one of the biggest stressors in their lives. Attain Fertility is here to offer you a number of resources to help you cope with infertility and the stress that accompanies fertility testing and treatment.
Infertility & Stress
It is unclear whether stress plays a role in causing infertility. Some studies do show a relationship between stress and fertility problems. At least one study has shown that women with the highest levels of stress hormones were less likely to get pregnant than others. Having said this, it is clear that the experience of an infertility diagnosis and follow-up treatments is often highly stressful. This experience can create intense feelings of worry, doubt, fear, and even guilt. The following issues can cause a lot of stress and worry for women going through infertility treatment:
- The lack of control in the process
- The high cost of infertility treatment
- Missing so much time at work
- The strain on personal relationships
- Physical discomforts and side effects of treatments
Stress and worry are normal, but they are not necessarily good for your health. See an infertility therapist or talk to your doctor if stress is getting you down.
Infertility & Depression
When coping with infertility, feelings of sadness, loss and grief are common and expected. But what if your pain and heartache don’t go away with time? It is normal, and even healthy, to feel down or sad once in awhile. But if your sad feelings are affecting your life more than you would like, you can get help. There is strength in numbers, especially when it comes to getting infertility support. If you live day-to-day wondering “if and when” you’ll ever get pregnant, consider individual or group support.
Individual infertility counseling
Start by talking to your doctor, especially if you are feeling depressed or anxious. If the emotional stress is overwhelming, or prevents you from participating in normal daily activities, contact a mental health professional like a professional counselor or psychologist for help.
If you are actively seeking fertility treatments, your fertility clinic may even offer onsite counseling services. Fertility counselors are trained experts that offer emotional support for those dealing with infertility. Many of these therapists have experienced the struggles of infertility themselves.
If IVF support is needed, a therapist or counselor can help you through. Learn new ways to cope with infertility and get support when making difficult fertility treatment decisions.
Infertility counseling for couples
Relationship issues can be common as infertility is often an issue for two people, not one. Coping with infertility can either strengthen your bond with your partner or destroy it. Deciding to pursue sperm or egg donation, for instance, can bring up a lot of different emotions.
If you and your partner argue a lot during this time, set up rules about how and when to discuss difficult topics. Make an appointment with your partner, make sure you are both calm, and set a time limit on the discussion. You might want to consider couples counseling to learn how to communicate better.
Sex therapy is also available to help with issues with sexuality and intimacy. If scheduling intercourse around your fertile time and taking hormone medications has zapped your libido, get help.
Infertility support groups
An infertility support group offers a safe space for individuals who are experiencing difficulties getting pregnant. In this space, women and men can join together to share personal stories, exchange information and encourage each another on the journey to parenthood.
While many fertility support groups meet in private homes or at fertility centers, online infertility support groups offer a convenient way to get support at any time, any place. With online infertility support groups, you can post personal messages and stories that relate to your fertility experience. Also, you can ask questions about fertility treatments, the latest fertility drugs, and high-tech assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF. Later, your questions may be answered by other group members, support group staff or even a fertility specialist. Here are a few of our favorite support pages to help you get started:
- Attain Fertility on Facebook
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
- Path2Parenthood (Formerly the American Fertility Association)
Find Peace of Mind
It may seem impossible to accept now, but you will resolve your fertility journey one day. You may find yourself pregnant soon or decide to stop trying. Until then, find peace of mind by accepting that the fertility journey is often out of your control. You may become pregnant, adopt, use a surrogate, or ultimately choose childfree living. Whatever your future holds, this is your reality now. Accept this reality and find peace with your fertility journey.
Set boundaries with others
Couples coping with infertility often dread certain social events. Attending a friend’s baby shower or seeing your brother’s children during the holidays may trigger painful emotions. Feel free to set boundaries that protect yourself from these emotions.
If necessary, set a limit regarding time spent in situations that may upset you. Be prepared for well-intentioned, but potentially upsetting questions from friends or family. When others ask about how things are going, decide how much information you want to share. And if you feel that your emotions are out of control, change the subject or feel free to cut the conversation short.
To counteract the negative health effects of stress, learn meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. Learning these relaxation methods can help when coping with infertility, like staying calm during uncomfortable medical procedures.
Exercising regularly, eating right, and getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep will help you feel your best each day. Try massage therapy, chiropractic care or acupuncture to help when coping with infertility. And, these positive complementary medicine interventions may even increase your chances of conceiving.
When dealing with infertility stress know that there are opportunities that can help you during this time. Empower yourself by learning all you can about infertility treatments, and seek help when tough emotions arise while coping with infertility.