October 27, 2020
Does it seem like every time you turn around a friend or family member is celebrating a pregnancy?
When you’re experiencing infertility, the stress, anxiety and loneliness that often accompany your journey can be difficult to manage. And once fertility treatments begin, those feelings can magnify. But with a little perspective and some positive steps, you can take control of both your physical and emotional health.
You Are Not Alone
First, know that you are not alone. About 15 percent of couples experience infertility and nearly 7.3 million people in the U.S. have sought infertility services. Although this doesn’t diminish the pain you are experiencing, these numbers do let you know there is a large community of support available for you. Don’t hesitate to tap into it.
Understand Your Options
Part of the difficulty of coping with infertility is not knowing what to do next. If you’re in this situation, a fertility specialist can help you sort out your options. Understanding is key to staying positive about where you are and where you might go.
Be Kind to Yourself and Honest with Your Partner
While the emotions you are experiencing are normal, dealing with them in a healthy way can make all the difference in moving forward with the next stage in your life.
Start by acknowledging your feelings. Whatever you are feeling/doing, you’re doing everything right. Be honest with yourself and your partner about your emotions—guilt, sadness, jealousy, anger, depression. It’s all OK. Honest and open conversation opens pathways you may not have even realized existed. If this becomes too difficult, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a counselor or therapist.
Do Something You Enjoy Every Day
Whether it’s taking a walk, writing in a journal, binge-watching a favorite show, or connecting with a friend, make sure to put a fun activity on your agenda each day. The stress and disappointment you face as you overcome infertility can be overwhelming. Try to find moments of happiness by doing something you truly enjoy.
Stay Close to Your Partner
When you’ve been trying to conceive for an extended period of time, intimacy may start to feel forced. Find ways to reconnect. Intimacy of all kinds can make you feel more like yourself again.
When to See a Fertility Counselor?
Infertility may affect your relationships, your perspective on life, and how you feel about yourself. You may benefit from counseling if you are experiencing:
- Persistent feelings of sadness
- Social isolation
- Agitation or anxiety
- Loss of interest in usual activities and relationships
- Mood swings
- Constant preoccupation with infertility
- Marital problems
- Difficulty with “scheduled” intercourse
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Changes in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
- Thoughts about suicide or death
These resources recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine may be helpful in addressing a variety of concerns and issues. The list is by no means exhaustive. If you require help regarding other topics, please consult the patient resources section of ReproductiveFacts.org or your health-care professional.
- Choice Moms: An organization to help single women who proactively decide to become the best mother they can, through adoption or conception
- Fertile Hope: A national LIVESTRONG initiative dedicated to providing reproductive information, support, and hope to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments present the risk of infertility
- Frank Talk: A peer-support Website dedicated to helping men deal with erectile dysfunction
- InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. (INCIID)
- North American Council on Adoptable Children: An organization committed to meeting the needs of waiting children and the families who adopt them, nacac.org
- Parents Via Egg Donation: An organization created to provide information to parents and parents-to-be and to share information about all facets of the egg donation process
- Pop Luck Club: The Pop Luck Club has evolved into a substantial voice, helping to support the growth of our wonderfully diverse LBGT community
- RESOLVE: A national infertility support organization
- Single Mothers by Choice: Offering support and information to single women who are considering motherhood and to single mothers who have chosen this path to parenthood
Self-Care: The Common Denominator
The tips and resources above all have something in common: self-care. You are dealing with circumstances that can complicated and hard. Be sure to focus on you. Take time for yourself in whatever ways boost your physical and emotional well-being.
The team at Penn Fertility Care – Lancaster General Health can help. Learn more about the resources available for you at LGHealth.org/Fertility.