Coping with the stress of infertility: How to

Infertility has the potential to strike at our sense of self, our confidence, values, goals, dreams and roles. Amongst all the basic human drives, one that truly stands out is the ability to procreate, bear and raise children. However, when this ability to reproduce faces a setback, it triggers a crisis that has a significant impact on a couple’s life. The worst part about this crisis is that it has the potential to make the couple far more vulnerable to stress and depression. It also leads to a sense of loss, which I must add, is universal to the nature of infertility. Infertility particularly comes as a shock to people who are used to setting goals and aims in their lives and achieving them. What distresses them the most is the fact that they lose control over something that is so basic in life.

If truth be told, being infertile tends to take a toll on every single aspect of one’s life. Be it the relationship you share with your partner, the way you feel about yourself and even how you view life in general – infertility will touch all of it. What makes it even worst is the fact that it can trigger significant amounts of uncertainty together with emotional upheaval in the day-to-day activities of the both of you as a couple.

If you are someone who is dealing with infertility, know that we completely understand the pain and stress that you are going through. For this reason, BabyGaga has come up with a list of things that you can do to reduce your stress and focus on your mind and body when dealing with infertility. Here’s what you can do:

7 Begin by acknowledging your feelings

Prior to being able to cut down on your depression, it is extremely important for you to acknowledge your feelings and understand that they are 100% normal. The thing with infertility tests and procedures is that going through them month after month has the potential to emotionally, financially and physically drain you. When treatment goes on for a while, you end up feeling as if you have no control whatsoever over your own body. To make things worse, the fact that you have no control at all over the ultimate outcome of your treatment can totally debilitate you and add to the stress you are already facing. For a majority of couples, having a child is like a lifelong dream, but this dream gets completely shattered due to infertility.

To be able to deal with your stress and depression, you need to acknowledge that infertility is a crisis. Acknowledging this fact is the key to coping – just what you need to do. By recognizing your problem, you will be in a much better position to face this challenge. However, there is no reason why you should chastise yourself for facing this stress and depression. By accepting your emotions, you will find it easier to move beyond them.

Take it as a couple's problem

There is no need for you to suffer alone irrespective of who is identified to be causing the problem. Infertility is a problem that both of you are facing so it is best for you to address it as a couple. Don’t think of it as just your problem – it is a couple problem

6 Stop blaming yourself

There is no reason why you should get angry at yourself for being infertile or even listen to the little voice in your head that is saying, “I should not have waited”, “I should have lost more weight”, “I should have looked after my health” or any other negative thoughts that might be going on in your mind. All of these negative thoughts are only going to bring you down and make you feel even more depressed. With all of the stress that you are facing and the depression you are suffering from, there is no need at all for you to make yourself even sadder.

Don’t berate yourself

The moment you start getting those ‘should have’ and ‘could have’ thoughts in your mind, remind yourself that being infertile is not your fault. Instead of thinking about what you could have done, think of the future, plan things out and concentrate on what you need to do now.

5 Empower yourself

Stop feeling helpless. Instead, inform yourself – read as much as you can and feel free to ask questions from your doctor. Seeking treatment for infertility can turn out to be a rather complex procedure, and understanding what all is happening medically will make it possible for you to make better choices in times to come.

Instead of bringing yourself down, plan out a treat for yourself every now and then. For instance, you could cook some of your favorite food or get yourself a massage or a manicure. Anything that distracts you for a while can work wonders in terms of helping you cope with your depression. What you need to remember here is that laughter can go a long way in terms of lifting up your mood and giving your spirit a bit of a boost. For this, you could consider watching a funny film, reading a funny novel or even going out to a comedy club. Anything that works for you, makes you laugh and distracts you from your fertility issues is recommended. If anything, you should not put your life on hold. Keep up with your hobbies and do things that satisfy you – trust me, this will go a long way in terms of helping you live happily.

Give up on old activities that make you sad

It is highly recommended for you to give up on old activities that make you sad or are painful. For instance, if your friends are all parents now, work out diversions and stay away for a while. Instead, do something that you’ve always wanted to do – learn the guitar, head out for hiking or enroll for a class that you’ve been interested in taking up.

4 Grieve

Yes, you may hope to get pregnant at some point in your life, but deep inside, your unconscious mind may grieve for the child that you don’t have – and may not have. You need to bear in mind the fact that grief that remains unresolved can trigger a lot of anxiety. In order to make yourself feel better, it is extremely important for you to go through a period of mourning. If anything, just consider this period to be one where you grieve your shattered dream. Whether you choose to talk about things with a family member or friend, or just write down your feelings, make sure that you acknowledge the whole situation and work through your grief to be able to let go of it.

Repressing your feeling of sorrow, guilt or anger is just not recommended. If you hear about someone else’s pregnancy and feel the need to cry about its ‘unfairness’, don’t resist yourself – just go ahead and do it. If you are angry over the entire issue, feel free to pound a pillow or hit a punching bag. You need to release your anger and you should go ahead and do it by all means – don’t let your anger pent-up inside you.

To cope with things, you should also take out about 30 to 40 minutes from your day and dedicate it to focusing on your feelings about infertility. Letting your feelings come up is going to go a long way in terms of helping you cope with them.

Look after yourself

If you truly want to be able to cope with your depression, you need to look after yourself. Sleep well, eat a healthy diet, and indulge in activities that you truly enjoy – just have fun for a change.

3 Consider counseling

Getting depressed and feeling stressed out due to infertility is normal, but help is available. In order to cope with your feelings, it is highly recommended for you to see a professional counselor who is experienced in working with people who are infertile or are taking fertility treatment. Rest-assured that a counselor will make it extremely easy for you to manage all your stress and make the best decisions in times to come. Seeking counseling is all the more important in case you’re seeking treatment that involves a donor of embryos, sperm or egg(s). This also holds true for those who are planning on involving a surrogate mother.

Seeking medical help in order to build your family can trigger a lot of emotional, social and relationship stress.Managing this stress and depression is extremely important because leaving it unmanaged or untreated can eat away at your life. Doing so is fairly easy now thanks to the counseling services available these days to infertile couples. Through it, you will find it much easier to make satisfying and knowledgeable decisions about your treatment and life in general.

Counseling is recommended to all infertile couples

The stress and depression triggered by fertility issues can be rather debilitating. To deal with it, counseling is just what you need. Counseling can prove beneficial before, during and after going through medical procedures. For instance, counseling can help you out at times when you feel that your usual ways of putting up with stress aren’t working or if you feel that infertility is causing stress in the relationships that you share with others.

2 Don’t let infertility take over your entire life

When dealing with infertility, it is necessary for you to remind yourself that there are other life events as well happening in the world on a daily basis. All of these require your utmost attention and energy. Such life events are inclusive of getting a promotion, having sick relatives, moving to a different place, and even world events. All of these have the potential to impact your life and have an effect on the things that you are feeling. 

The onset of all these issues can easily add to the struggles and challenges that you are currently facing. But the good part is that some of them may even bring you joy, which is why you shouldn’t alienate yourself from them. What you need to remember here is that infertility is just one part of your life – there is no reason why you should let it take over your entire existence.

Your desire to have a family can face a serious backlash when you get to learn about being infertile. There is no way for you to know how far you will go in this quest and with time, you will notice a lot of changes taking place in the way you feel about things. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to sit down as a couple every once in a while and reevaluate where the two of you are in the process. Talk about the entire procedure, discuss the treatment options you are willing to go through etc. Trust me, talking about things with each other will go a long way in terms of helping you restore your emotional energy.

There are things in life that you can and cannot control

To be able to manage stress and depression, it is extremely important for you to understand what you can and cannot control in life. For instance, you can control what job assignments you wish to take on, but there is no way for you to control what’s going to happen during a treatment cycle.  

1 Connect with your family members and friends – don’t suffer alone

In order to reduce your depression and stress, it is highly recommended for you to build a bridge back to your family members and friends. It is natural for you to feel a stronger connection with people who also have fertility issues, but you also need to listen to advice given by other people who wish to offer their love and support to you. In case you have relatives who are uninformed about infertility, make sure that you educate them. You could consider recommending a book to them, explaining your feelings, and even telling them about the remarks that appear insensitive (even when they are passed unintentionally). This way, they will be in a much better position to understand your position and help you through this tough time.

If you want, you could even consider joining social support networks. Trust me, the support you will receive online can work wonders in helping you reduce those feelings of depression and stress. It is also recommended for you to inquire about the support groups and counseling services offered by the infertility clinic you are seeking treatment from.

Don’t separate yourself from your partner

You need to recognize the fact that infertility can take a toll on your relationship with your partner. At times, it can trigger feelings of inadequacy, unspoken resentment, tension and even sexual pressure. Apart from that, men and women tend to react differently to infertility as men become more emotionally distance and women become more openly distraught. To ease things out, it is vital for the two of you to communicate with each other and give time to yourselves as a couple. In case the stress of infertility is getting to your relationship, make sure that you seek out counseling instantly.

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