Infertility is perceived as a problem across all cultures and societies and affects an estimated 10%-15% of couples of reproductive age. In recent years, the number of couples seeking treatment for infertility has dramatically increased due to factors such as postponement of childbearing in women, development of newer and more successful techniques for infertility treatment, and increasing awareness of available services. The constant stress, the money that goes into fertility treatments, negative pregnancy tests, and the stress of the non-fulfillment of a wish for a child has been associated with emotional sequences such as anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems, social isolation, and compromised mental health.
To put it simply, infertility is the inability to conceive after trying for a whole year. At that point, a person can begin showing signs of mental fatigue, which can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair. It can completely take over a person’s life, leading one to isolate themselves completely. But it should be noted that infertility is fairly common. An estimated 48.5 million are impacted globally. Furthermore, about 9 percent of men and 10 percent of women have reported infertility problems in the United States. It is also pertinent to mention that there are several reasons as to why any person is experiencing infertility, whether female or male. It typically has something to do with age, physical conditions, or behaviors that could be temporarily causing infertility. Putting the blame on yourself is unnecessary and harmful, especially when realizing that it is all completely out of your control.
Stress, depression, and anxiety are all common consequences of infertility, as well as a loss of identity and diminished self-esteem. Up to 61 percent of infertile women report feelings of higher levels of anxiety and depression than fertile women, with nearly 40% struggling with depression and 87% experiencing anxiety. These can all take immense tolls on the psyche and the best way to combat this is to learn how to cope with this unfair stage of life. It is important to note that there is no fast cure to feeling better. It takes time and lots of patience, but it is within reach. Infertility can take over your life if you let it, but learning to cope is the first stepping stone to beginning your recovery.
If you are struggling, whether female or male, the following list features several tips for you to consider as you take this emotional journey.
Lots of women (and men) struggle with infertility. It is normal, but that does not mean that it isn’t heartbreaking and world-shattering. Psychologists recognize infertility as trauma that can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-related symptoms. The best thing for you to do is understand and learn everything you can about what this means for you, your partner, and your body. You have to recognize that it is all out of your control and that you are doing everything you can to try and reach this seemingly unattainable dream.
Here is something positive to note: Stress does not impact fertility directly. Scientists have proven that feeling stressed about conceiving does not diminish your chances of becoming pregnant. The only difference you may feel is different is your response to sex, meaning that you might not want to do it as much, which, of course, does not help when attempting to conceive. Overall, though, this means that you don’t have to stress about being stressed, and you can begin to focus your time on the impact that this is having on your mental state.
You are not alone in this struggle. Your partner is right there with you, even when it seems like they are not. Chances are that they are going through something similar to you, so don’t isolate yourself from them. Think of you and your partner as being on the same team. You both want the same thing, and it tears you apart to find that the journey is more difficult than you could ever imagine. Always find time to talk about the disappointment and sorrow that you feel.
Infertility has the potential to drive you away from your partner. Statistics prove that being unable to conceive is one of the leading causes of divorce.
Luckily, there are lots of options when it comes to seeking help for yourself and others who are struggling. Check to see if there are any support groups meeting in your area. Being able to share your experiences with people who have gone through similar hardships can do wonders. Not only this but there are several online groups on social media and other platforms that you can join to talk to other people who are going through something similar. There you will find lots of like-minded people who will provide tips and a deep understanding to make you feel less alone.
Though, if you would like to seek individual treatment, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a proven method to help alleviate and understand your current state. Furthermore, group or individual psychotherapy can also be beneficial. Different methods work for different people, so find what is best suited for you. Know that all of these practices are meant to help and guide you into a better state of mind. If a particular method is not working, then move on to something else.
There is no need to go back and forth between what could happen or what could have happened. All it does is add more stress to your everyday life. The best thing for you to do is to try and focus on what is happening right now. This can be difficult, especially since anxious thoughts tend to focus on the mistakes of the past and the uncertainty of the future. A good way to practice this is by meditating every day. Mindfulness allows you to think through your decisions and thoughts more thoroughly, meaning that you will begin to have a better processing mechanism in place as life throws curveballs at you.
Self-care is one of the most important aspects of bettering your mental state. It is sometimes difficult to put yourself first, especially when the world is crumbling all around you, but it is a good step in the right direction. Self-care looks different for everybody, and no one knows you better than yourself. You should begin to dedicate specific time for yourself where you do whatever activity you enjoy most, such as watching television or movies, drawing or crafting, exercising, and much more. Self-care can also mean pampering yourself however you see fit. Some people enjoy taking long, relaxing baths or getting their nails done. Whatever the activity or mindset you need, give yourself some extra time to relax and regroup. Your mind will thank you.
Infertility is not the end of the world, even if it feels like that sometimes. The best thing for you to do is learn what coping strategies work best for you and begin your journey to a more positive outlook on life. It is difficult and takes a lot of patience, but the outcome is rewarding and worthwhile. It is not going to happen overnight; in fact, it may take months to feel like yourself again. But taking the first step is often the hardest. You should take pride in the moments where you feel happy that you are actively changing the way you feel and change the way you respond to the stress of infertility. Don’t let it take over your life.
Begin your coping journey doing whatever feels most comfortable to you. Whether it be pampering yourself or taking a trip to the therapist, you should feel proud of yourself for trying your best to take charge of your life.