Struggling with infertility

Mental Health and Wellness
Struggling with infertility

Difficulty conceiving a child can bring up all kinds of feelings-- sadness, anxiety, shame and anger, to name a few.  Infertility treatments often lead couples to feeling like they are on an emotional roller coaster as they go through the ups and downs of navigating their relationship, while also dealing with the medical and financial aspects of the process. 

Those who have struggled with infertility know that it can make you feel like many things are out of your control.  You may feel like you are alone, and that there is nothing you can do to manage your emotions during this time. 

It is important for women and their partners to practice self-care in order to get the support they need during this challenging experience. Here are some tips for women battling with infertility:

  • Acknowledge your feelings.  Many couples who have experienced infertility describe it as one of the most stressful challenges they have gone through in their entire lives.  It is normal, and it is okay to feel overwhelmed and upset. 
  • Communicate with your partner:  Sometimes, the stress  of fertility issues can lead to difficulty expressing yourself and your needs.  Often, the woman may feel that the bulk of the burden falls on her.  Try to find ways that you and your partner can work together in order to help each other.
  • Do what you need to do.  Does spending time with a pregnant friend make you feel sad?  Does the thought of attending another children's birthday party make you want to cry?  It's okay to say no.  Part of taking care of yourself is knowing what you can handle at that time, and not putting yourself through more stress than you can manage. 
  • Maintain hobbies and other interests.  Fertility treatments can quickly become a full-time job.  You may find that with your doctor's appointments, treatments and endless research, your life can quickly become completely consumed.  It is important to find other ways to spend your time that bring you happiness.
  • Set limits.  Fertility treatments can leave both your body and your bank account drained.  Decide and communicate with your partner about how long you're willing to try, what you are willing to do and how much money you are willing to spend.  Although fertility problems can leave you feeling out of control,  you have control of what you are willing to do, if you want to take a break, or if it is time for you to stop.  You also have the right to revisit and change your mind about the limits you've set if they aren't working for you.
  • Seek support.  Speaking with a reproductive specialist about how you are feeling can help you feel less isolated and more grounded.  If you are looking for group support,  Resolve (the National Infertility Association) holds peer support groups both in the community and online.