Coping with Infertility in Ten Steps
Facing infertility can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Through the entire process (realization, acceptance, research, making choices and treatments) it is normal for a person to feel a whole mish-mash of negative emotions, positive emotions and feelings that fall somewhere in between. Consider the following steps to help yourself, your partner and your friends and family cope with facing infertility.
- Recognize Your Situation for What It Is – Infertility is a crisis. By acknowledging this, you will be better able to accept and manage the emotions natural to crisis situations.
- Name Your Emotions and Talk About Them – Couples with fertility issues experience a range of emotions, including loss, inadequacy, anger, guilt, judgment, jealousy and fear. If you put on a brave face, others will not understand and will be unable to help. Naming and talking about feelings will help you cope with them.
- Be Careful Where You Place Blame – No good can come from blaming yourself or your partner for physical issues or choices that were made earlier in life. Accept the challenge for what it is and make the decision to move forward in the healthiest way possible.
- Team Up with Your Partner – Infertility affects both you and your partner. Although you are both in a crisis, you might react to it differently. Make space for your partner to respond differently and maintain open, loving, supportive and honest communication.
- Educate Yourself – Little is more frightening than facing a fertility concern with no information. Research your medical history, learn about treatment options and speak with a fertility doctor. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your chances of achieving pregnancy.
- Set Time and Budget Limits – Decide how much time you want to spend in treatment. Beginning without a deadline can feel overwhelming. You can always change your mind in the future, but it is helpful to be able to tell yourself that you can take a break after so many months. You should also think about your budget and set one to mitigate the financial strain of fertility treatments.
- Seek Professional and Group Support – Support from a therapist or counselor and groups of individuals who have been through or are currently going through fertility treatment will do wonders to help you through the process. You will be better prepared for what is to come, have tools to handle the stress and also feel less alone in your journey.
- Break Through Isolation – Many couples experience isolation from their friends and family during the process of fertility treatment. You can work to prevent this by helping your loved ones understand the struggle you are going through. Provide them with educational information about everything the process entails to help them understand your struggle and that achieving pregnancy is your priority. It also helps to have open conversations about your feelings and theirs.
- Be Both Optimistic and Realistic – In her poem, Hope, Emily Dickinson wrote, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – / That perches in the soul – / That sings the tune without the words – / And never stops – at all -” This type of hope is absolutely necessary throughout fertility treatment; hopeful optimism will keep you going through the process. You should, however, also keep your hopes within realistic expectations. Talk with your doctor about treatment success rates and what you can do to improve your chances of achieving pregnancy.
- Do Not Neglect Your Other Interests – During fertility treatment, patients easily become submerged in fertility information, timing of cycles, treatments and medications and everything else that goes along with the process. It is important, however, to fiercely defend your other hobbies and interests. Spend time with your friends and family, and stay involved in the activities you love – activities that have nothing to do with fertility treatment.
If you are at the beginning of your emotional journey through infertility, well into treatments or nearing the end of the process, we encourage you to reach out for professional advice, counseling and group support. For more information and resources regarding coping with infertility, we encourage you to contact our experienced doctors at Viera Fertility Center.