Receiving a bona fide infertility diagnosis is a mixed bag. For many couples, after a year of trying to get pregnant at home without birth control (or after six consecutive months if you’re 36 years old or more), a stated diagnosis provides clarity and charts a new way forward with a customized fertility treatment plan.
Prioritize Emotional & Mental Health During Fertility Treatments
However, once all of the information is disseminated, most women and couples experience a range of dark emotions, including anger, anxiety, depression, or resentment towards themselves or the partner with the diagnosis. These emotions aren’t easy to discuss or process, especially with family or friends who don’t struggle with infertility. This can make you feel isolated.
Getting the mental and emotional support you need early along in the journey makes a big difference in how you weather the fertility treatment roller coaster. Keep in mind that some couples experience at least one or two failed cycles, and it may take a few years before you get pregnant. The following recommendations can tend to your heart while your fertility specialist works diligently to manage to your treatments.
There are infertility support groups in almost any city nationwide, as well as online support groups you can join. In addition to helping you process feelings, members of these support groups are also amateur experts and can help you understand more about infertility medical speak.
If you don’t feel ready to speak out loud or connect with others about your experience, consider reading some of the many fantastic infertility-oriented blogs out there. It’s a more private way to read about others’ experiences, and some have a following that becomes a small online support community in and of themselves.
Regular or “as you need them” appointments with a licensed therapist specializing in infertility is another wise move. Infertility brings up a broad and powerful range of issues, from struggles in a couple’s romantic lives to finding the best tools and coping strategies to help you process all that arises throughout your fertility journey.
Having a trusting and familiar relationship with a fertility counselor also helps if your journey takes you to places you didn’t think you’d go, like using donor sperm or eggs – or finding a gestational carrier to improve your fertility chances. Those decisions have an emotional impact in the immediate moment and deserve consideration for how you’ll explain your choice with family, friends, and your future child when it feels appropriate.
It’s not uncommon for couples to struggle during fertility. On the one hand, they are each others’ strongest advocates; on the other, people grieve and process sadness, anxiety, and other infertility-related emotions differently. The very process of timing intercourse around ovulation may already have taken its toll (making pleasure become more like business), and fertility treatment schedules may exacerbate that.
Focusing on your partnership, finding ways to keep the romance and connection alive, and remaining open in your communication is a huge step in the right direction. You want to ensure you bring your future child into a family with a strong, healthy foundation.
Sometimes, feelings are so overwhelming that it makes sense for individuals to take antidepressants or other medications to support their mood. There is no shame in that; many of our patients feel their antidepressants are essential to helping them remain as focused, positive, and stress-free as possible.
If you already struggle with depression or anxiety, discuss treatment options with your OB/GYN or fertility specialist, so your emotional landscape is clear from the beginning. There’s no need to wait for an emotional crash to get the help you deserve.
Let’s face it; once you’re pursuing fertility treatments, it feels like they’re the only thing that matters. Unfortunately, most patients don’t have the financial freedom to take years off work – or retire early – to make fertility treatments their full-time job. Instead, the goal becomes balancing work and fertility treatments.
Be 100% transparent with your fertility specialist about your work life and its demands, so we schedule treatments in a manageable way. We also recommend speaking confidentially to HR or a trusted manager/leader in your workplace about your situation. They may have ideas you haven’t thought about for minimizing the work impact, including banking hours ahead of time, working from home during treatments or insurance plans better suited for fertility treatment compensation.
The Reproductive Resource Center has provided full-spectrum fertility care in the Kansas City area for more than 35 years. We are considered the best fertility center in the region, and our attention to our patients’ mental and emotional health is one of the reasons why. Schedule a consultation with us to learn more about how you can protect your mental health during infertility and the fertility treatment journey.