When you and your partner decided to start a family, you probably thought it wouldn’t take long. You may have even waited longer than many of your friends, holding out for when the time was right. But life doesn’t always go as planned; many couples struggle for a year or more trying to conceive.
When your fertility journey takes longer than expected it can affect every aspect of your life. Including your self-esteem, your relationship with your partner and even your outlook on life. It can be an incredibly stressful time as you deal with the uncertainty and emotional highs and lows of trying to conceive.
But as overwhelming as infertility may be, there are some things you can do to ease the stress and anxiety that surfaces during the process. Here are some ways you can bring calm back into your life.
The Toll Infertility Can Take on Your Mental Health
As your fertility journey stretches on, it can feel like your entire life revolves around getting pregnant. You go to sleep and wake up thinking about having a baby. The reality is, infertility can be physically and emotionally exhausting and it’s perfectly normal to feel anxious or even depressed. You may even be experiencing feelings of guilt. Maybe you have an illness that led to your fertility issues, or maybe you feel like you should have started trying sooner — or even frozen your eggs just in case. You know it’s not your fault, but you can't help but feel guilty anyway.
Feelings of frustration and anger at yourself or your spouse are perfectly normal. You may suddenly find yourself arguing with your partner about everything, including fertility treatment decisions. A lot of people even notice a new found anger at couples who are pregnant or have newborns.
The truth is a long fertility journey can be heartbreaking. Going through all the testing and treatment is exhausting. What you’re feeling is perfectly normal, but you don’t have to let it steer your life. There are lots of things you can do to help you cope.
Coping measures you can taking during your fertility journey
Not only does infertility cause stress, but stress can actually reduce your odds of getting pregnant, thus creating a vicious cycle. Learning how to manage the stress and disappointment associated with infertility is an essential part of your fertility journey. So here are some ways you can steel yourself against the throes of your fertility journey.
- Take Care of Your Physical Health
You may not have control over what’s causing your infertility journey, but you do have control over your diet and lifestyle during this stressful time. You’re spending so much time and energy trying to get pregnant that it’s easy to overlook your general health and this can contribute to how lousy you're feeling.
Prioritise a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, plant-based protein, and healthy fats. Cut back on your intake of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest, exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, too.
- Consider Herbs and Supplements
Experts in fertility at the Yinova Center encourage that you talk to your doctor about supplements and herbs to help with fertility. Herbs and supplements can be very useful for balancing hormones and overcoming many common fertility issues. They also provide a safe and gentle way to support your mental and physical health, and your fertility, in conjunction with conventional fertility treatments.
- Acknowledge How You’re Feeling
One of the first steps to overcoming stress and anxiety is acknowledging how you’re feeling and understanding that it is completely normal. Going through infertility treatments month after month can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining — not to mention dealing with the side effects.
Having a child has probably been one of your lifelong dreams. Having that dream shattered or put on hold can be devastating. It’s okay if you feel sad, depressed, angry, frustrated, and everything in between, as long as you’re finding healthy ways to cope with those feelings.
- Talk It Out
As your fertility journey stretches on, try to surround yourself with people who can answer your questions, understand your fears, and above all, be sensitive to how you’re feeling. Talk it out with your doctor, your partner, and supportive friends and family members.
Joining a fertility support group can also be incredibly beneficial. By meeting other couples who are going through a similar journey, you’ll feel less alone. And you’ll have a safe place to share your feelings and concerns.
- Take Care of Your Relationship
Infertility can take a toll on your relationship, causing feelings of tension, sexual pressure, inadequacy, and resentment.
If you feel like the stress of what you’re going through is coming between you and your partner, counselling can help you reconnect and move forward. Finding ways to reestablish intimacy can also be fruitful.
Have a date night at least once a week, hug, hold hands, go for a walk, or give each other a back rub. Finding ways to be intimate without having sex can help you reconnect and become more open to talking about how you’re feeling.
The Bottom Line
There will probably still be days when nothing seems to help. Sometimes you may still feel drained and hopeless. How can you cope through times like these? Remind yourself that this is normal and try to accept it as best you can. Most importantly, don’t blame yourself or allow those feelings to build up. The good news is, practicing relationship and coping skills now can only benefit you in the future, and might even help you prepare for parenthood.