Coping with infertility isn’t just a physical issue. It can affect every aspect of your life. It can impact your relationship, your self-esteem, your mental health, your finances and even your friendships, especially if your friends are pregnant or conceiving without issue. Feelings of jealousy or depression are natural but can be overwhelming at times.
For those who have been diagnosed with infertility, it comes as no surprise that this medical condition is often likened to Kubler-Ross’s stages of death and dying which includes isolation, changes in social status, and loss of a dream. Adding insult to injury, couples who don’t have children are often judged, stigmatized or asked often why they don’t have children yet making coping with infertility that much more difficult.
Coping with Infertility Can Reduce Stress
Finding ways to minimize stress both on your own and with your partner while pursuing treatment can help tremendously. This doesn’t mean you should, “Just relax!” as people will often suggest. In fact, a new study co-authored by Marci Lobel, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Jennifer Nicoloro Santa Barbara, MSW, MA, and colleagues at Stony Brook University, the study results are published in Social Science and Medicine reveals evidence that a woman’s emotional state does not have a strong connection with the success of infertility treatment. Investing in ways to cope with infertility is more for your own sanity, happiness and well-being as you and your partner go through treatment.
Find Your People
The goal of stress reduction and looking for strategies is to minimize, not eliminate stress. You can’t “cure” infertility but you can find things that may make you feel better about your infertility journey. For some, that may entail seeing a therapist, couples counselor, a local support group, or even all three. Having an objective party (in the case of a therapist or counselor) help you talk out your feelings, sort them through and find productive ways to communicate with your partner can be immensely insightful in coping with infertility. Support groups are not for everyone, but for some people, being surrounded by people who truly understand and relate to exactly you’re going through can be immeasurable. There are also a number of online support groups that you can participate in if you prefer.
Educate and Advocate for Yourself
When you can’t get pregnant and you’re unsure of how long this journey will last or how it will end, finding ways to have sense of control can help with coping with infertility. That’s why taking an active role in your care and educating yourself about all of your options when it comes to IVF and talking about them with your doctor can be empowering. Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A or formerly called PGS), freeze-all cycles, Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) and single embryo transfer are just a few of the options that may be available to you and benefit you in your journey. It’s your journey, and it’s okay for you to be proactive with your medical care!
Coping with Infertility Through Mind and Body Options
Another approach to coping with infertility is to explore mind and body options. It can range from seeking out acupuncture, mind-body groups, yoga classes or massage therapy or if you prefer to rely on your own private time. There are also options such as journaling, listening to music, self-help books, walking, hiking, meditation, or visualization.
The goal is to find what works for YOU and your partner. If you can manage just a few minutes a day dedicated to coping with your infertility, it may significantly reduce stress, decrease some of those negative feelings and give you back some sense of control.