When you start trying to get pregnant, you feel such great excitement! There’s also usually a little fear of the unknown and worry about whether you are ready to be a parent. As the months roll by, your excitement fades, and a different kind of worry crops up: why am I not pregnant?!?
As the months pass, the worry grows and turns to fear. For many, a whole roller coaster of emotions turns you upside down and your stomach drops when you schedule your first appointment with an infertility clinic. Excitement and hope, turning to worry and fear after an unsuccessful IVF cycle or two. It’s stressful, to be sure. How do you cope with the stress of infertility? It helps to first get off the roller coaster by remembering that fertility treatment is usually more marathon than sprint. It often takes multiple cycles of IVF to achieve a pregnancy.
My grandmother used to say: “forewarned is forearmed.” Go into fertility treatment with the expectation that it may take a while and create a plan for coping with the stress. Here are 5 sure-fire tips for coping with the stress of infertility.
Start learning everything you can about fertility and infertility treatment. The more you know, the better able you will be to make decisions and set realistic expectations. There is a lot of misinformation “out there” about infertility, so choose reputable sources. First, start with the information provided by your doctor and your clinic—either in person or on their website. Other good sources include the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Creating a Family A-Z Infertility Resource Guide.
Our e-guide is an excellent resource to help you ask the right questions.
2. Change what you can and don’t sweat the small stuff.
There is some good evidence of things you can do to improve your fertility, but do your research to separate the wheat from the chaff. More sleep is good. Douching with a mixture of vinegar and ground pineapple cores is not. We follow the latest research on what lifestyle and diet will improve your fertility and chances of success with infertility treatment, so subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get info on the latest research.
3. Get out of yourself.
Infertility and its treatment can become all-consuming, and it’s easy to become self-absorbed. Your fertility, or lack thereof, is all you can think about, and pretty soon it takes over all of your waking moments. This approach is no way to live. I know it is easier said than done, but do your best to overcome this temptation. One excellent idea is to volunteer your time for a cause bigger than yourself. Find something in which you believe and throw your energy into it.
4. Bring joy back.
Infertility is joy-sapping. Fight this by making a list of things you used to do before you knew you were infertile that brought you joy. Start doing them again. Continue to plan for the future. Think in terms of vacations and hobbies. Not only will this make you happier, but it also serves as a wonderful distraction to infertility.
5. Get into therapy.
Infertility is hard on you, your marriage, and your friendships. Therapy can help you cope, so give yourself the gift of a wise person to whom you can talk. If possible, choose a therapist who is knowledgeable about infertility. Ask your clinic for a referral. You can also check out the Find a Health Professional tool at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine website and search for mental health specialties.
Infertility is bound to be stressful, but there are ways to cope. Coping can bring you greater mental clarity and happiness along the journey to creating your family.
Image credit: Jesper Sehested Pluslexia.com; Rick Bradley