How to Cope with Infertility
Infertility can be an extremely stressful condition to have to deal with, both physically and emotionally. However, there are a number of steps that you can take to help deal with the feelings and thoughts that occur during fertility diagnosis and treatment. It is important that you take the time, both as an individual and with your partner, to address all of your concerns. In particular, it is important to educate yourself on infertility and fertility treatments and to identify those aspects that are of particular anxiety to you. By setting realistic goals, identifying your emotional needs, and discussing your feelings often, you and your partner can learn to cope with a diagnosis of infertility.
Discussing Your Feelings about Infertility
Infertility is often accompanied by a plethora of confusing emotions and feelings. It is important to be able to give a voice to these feelings in order to work through your infertility treatments and options. Friends and family often provide open ears when it comes to sharing your concerns. However, friends and family can sometimes find it difficult to truly understand infertility and may not know what to say or how to act. Here are some tips when it comes to sharing your feelings with those around you:
- Try to identify your feelings using specific words and phrases. This can help to clarify things for yourself and for your friends and family members.
- Share reading material about infertility and fertility treatments with those closest to you, to encourage understanding. These fertility guides will improve overall knowledge and acceptance of your infertility.
- Put down your feelings in writing. This can often help to reduce anxiety or embarrassment when it comes to discussing personal emotions.
- Identify what you need from those around you. Determine if these expectations are realistic or unrealistic. If friends and family can’t meet your expectations, you may need to revise them or share your feelings with someone else.
- Join an infertility support group. These groups are made up of couples who are experiencing similar emotions and concerns.
Sharing Couple Time
When you are undergoing fertility treatment, it can often be hard to connect with your partner on any other level. You may find that you and your partner no longer spend time together outside of fertility appointments, or you might discover that most of your discussions now center around fertility issues. It is important to take time to discuss infertility with your partner, but it is also a good idea to devote time to just being a couple. Here are a few suggestions when it comes to being with your partner:
- Discussions about infertility can often go on forever. And because it is such an emotional topic, it can be hard to make progress during these conversations. Try to limit your discussion of infertility with your partner to 40 minutes every night. Each partner has twenty minutes to present feelings, emotions, or ideas, while the other partner listens openly. This kind of discussion forum will help you to make better progress in your infertility discussions, and will help to prevent infertility from dominating all of your time.
- Devote some time everyday for you and your partner to reconnect in some way. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or rent a movie from the local video store. Avoid discussing infertility or treatment options. The time you spend together should be a chance for you to laugh, talk, and just enjoy being in one another’s company.
Regain Your Sense of Control
Infertility is often accompanied by a lost sense of control. It can be difficult to accept it when you experience a problem that seems to be out of your reach to fix. However, by reinstating your sense of control, you can begin to deal more positively with your fertility issues. Here are some ways to regain some control in your life:
- Talk with your Health Care Provider: It is important that you talk regularly with your health care providers, including your nurses and reproductive endocrinologist. Find out all that you can about your condition and possible treatment choices. Do your own reading about infertility and bring ideas and opinions up with your health care team.
- Design an Action Plan: When coping with infertility, it is important to set up an action plan that you and your partner can follow. This action plan can include a list of the treatments that you are going to pursue as well as the maximum amount of money you are able to spend on them. Your action plan should look to both the present and future: decide what you want to do now, but also consider options for later on, in case treatment doesn’t work out.
- Define Your Limits: It is important that you are able to set limits on treatments that you are going to pursue. Fertility treatments, like IUI and IVF, can seem never ending at times, and if you are unable to define an ending point this can take quite a toll on your physical and emotional health, not to mention your finances. Try to set a specific time when you will end treatments, or limit your treatments to a certain number of cycles.
Seeking Professional Help
Because infertility is such a challenging issue to have to deal with, it can sometimes be helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor who has special expertise in the field. Fertility counselors are knowledgeable about various infertility treatments, and can often help couples make choices about their treatment options. Additionally, counselors are able to help couples experiencing infertility work through their emotions and feelings regarding the subject. Most couples who are undergoing infertility treatment choose to speak with a therapist at some point during their treatment.