Feeling stressed during infertility diagnosis and treatment is a natural response to a challenging life situation. The anxiety, however, can take a toll on a couple’s mental and physical health, causing further challenges to fertility treatment and outcomes.
In a previous post we discussed how stress can hinder fertility in both men and women. Furthermore, there is some evidence that extreme stress may negatively affect outcomes of ART (assisted reproductive therapies) in some individuals. Therefore, helping couples cope with stress is an indispensable aspect of fertility treatment at all Gaudium IVF centres.
In this article, the counsellors at MANTRANA – Gaudium’s unique counselling programme for couples undergoing infertility treatment – have compiled 10 useful tips to help you cope with infertility related stress.
1. Acknowledge that you are stressed
The foremost step to relieving infertility stress is to stop evading the need for emotional support. When a couple is going through infertility problems, feeling stressed or frustrated is natural and should not be considered a sign of weakness. Apart from your own personal desire to have a baby, family expectations and societal pressure can take a toll on your mental well being.
Only when you take a moment to admit to yourself that stress may be affecting your physical and emotional health, will you be able to take concrete steps to do something about it.
2. be supportive of your partner
Because of the misplaced perceptions people have regarding infertility, it is often the female partner who receives brick bats for not being able to conceive. Ironically it is also the female who receives abundant support and empathy from loved ones.
Perhaps because men are conditioned to put up a brave front, they seldom seek emotional support or acknowledge the need for counselling. In reality, being diagnosed with infertility can cause extreme stress to the male partner. His self- esteem can take a hit and he may become withdrawn and distant in trying to deal with the situation.
This is the time when both partners need to understand each other’s state of mind, be supportive of each other and not let infertility take a toll on the relationship.
3. Be receptive to help and support
Being diagnosed with infertility is emotionally taxing for a couple. While it is a time when you expect your partner to be your greatest emotional anchor, at times they may be too overwhelmed to offer you the love and support you need.
Confiding in a friend or a loved one can help you gain a new perspective and release some of the distress you may be feeling.
Remember, you cannot deal with infertility in isolation. You may feel the urge to cut everyone out, but the love and support of those who care for you can make the journey a lot easier.
4. Look out for yourself
Infertility treatment can be a long and exhausting process. It needs your time and commitment. More importantly, it needs you to be in the right frame of mind, and you have every right to safeguard your mental and physical health. Allow yourself to disagree with insensitive remarks or unpleasant questions by inquisitive relatives and acquaintances. If being with children upsets you, avoid it for the time being, instead of beating yourself up for having such feelings. There will be days when, despite having an optimistic outlook, you can’t help feeling sad. Delegate responsibilities and claim your time and space to deal with the roller coaster of emotions you may be experiencing. Make your emotional well being a priority and be kind to yourself.
5. Releasing is empowering
While most times you may be concealing your emotions to protect your partner, do know that it is not abnormal for a person struggling with infertility to feel angry, hurtful, or scared. Allow yourself to release these feelings. Confront emotions instead of suppressing them. Cry if it makes you feel better; meditate if it makes you calmer. Do physical exercise to release physical and mental tension.
Share your feelings with your partner and encourage them to do the same. Don’t let simmering negative emotions keep you from giving your best to your fertility treatment.
6. Find ways to help yourself
Going through cycles of infertility treatment, waiting for results, and keeping your hopes up through it all can be strenuous. Find ways to help yourself cope better. If music makes you happy, make it a part of your every-day life. If its meeting with friends that has pulled you through rough times in the past, don’t avoid it now. Walking, meditation, yoga, reading, learning a new skill – the things that you never found the time for earlier – take practical steps to cope with stress.
Pull yourself up and it is sure to have a positive impact on other aspects of your life.
7. Learn about your condition
Global statistics indicate that one in every six couples worldwide faces some form of infertility. Ask your fertility doctor questions that can help you learn more about your condition and the treatment options available to you. Read up on infertility treatments and the possible outcomes. Learn about the lifestyle changes that can make a positive difference to your treatment. To assure yourself further, learn more about your IVF doctor and the infrastructure and services at your fertility clinic.
To avoid being misled, do make sure to consult only reliable and authentic sources of information.
8. Watch your diet
What we eat affects our mood.
It is possible that in dealing with the challenge at hand, you may be neglecting your general health. Poor eating and unhealthy binging can deplete you of energy and cause unwanted weight gain. While comfort foods may appear to ease your tension a little, they cause multiple health problems. Also, the chemicals in processed foods are best avoided particularly during this phase of your life.
Seek nutrition advice from your fertility clinic and follow your doctor’s instructions on healthy eating.
Mindful eating was never as important as it is now!
9. Plan ahead for the two-week wait
The two-week period between embryo transfer and pregnancy test results often tends to be the most difficult time for couples as they wait in anticipation for positive news. While it is normal to feel anxious or worried during this time, try and distract yourself and keep yourself busy.
Last but not the least, expect the best but prepare yourself for all possible outcomes. Discuss the way forward with your partner and make genuine effort to not let infertility consume the other aspects of your life. Having a realistic approach and accepting that some things may be beyond your control helps. Understand that infertility is just one part of your life and not your entire life.
Developing the mind set to fight stress and anxiety is easier said than done. The support of family and friends can make the journey easier so don’t hesitate to reach out to those who care for you.
Need further guidance? Feel free to get in touch with our counsellors at MANTRANA, the country’s first ever comprehensive counselling programme to help couples cope with infertility related stress.
Email id.: email@example.com, Contact No. : 08527858585, 011-48858585