Planning for a family is never easy, but when you’re dealing with infertility, it can be a real emotional rollercoaster. In this article we delve into what one might experience on this emotional journey, and how to deal with the negative emotions of loneliness, stress, depression and anxiety caused by infertility.
Dealing with infertility
Infertility is a major life event and world-wide it is associated with increased risks of adverse psychological outcomes. With one in seven couples unable to conceive naturally and carry a baby to term, fertility treatment can be a complex pathway with an unknown outcome.
Although infertility is not a disease, the condition and its treatment can have a wide-ranging impact on people's lives, resulting in a variety of psychological-emotional disorders or consequences such as turmoil, frustration, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, and a sense of worthlessness.
Infertility also causes stress in both intrapersonal (marriage, physical and mental well-being, leisure/enjoyment, levels of happiness) and emotional and social (relationships with others, quality of work) areas of life.
Studies have found infertile women to be more neurotic, dependent, and anxious than fertile women, experiencing conflict over their femininity and fear associated with reproduction. Grief can expand month to month when there is no positive outcome.
Support on your fertility journey
Your fertility journey can sometimes be described as an emotional ‘roller coaster’, therefore support throughout your fertility journey is very important.
Infertility has a huge emotional strain on the couple and counselling may be beneficial as part of the initial infertility assessment, as a combination therapy measure during treatment, or as the last option to help individuals manage with accepting their infertility problem.
While there is a lack of information about effective stress reduction techniques for women of reproductive age who are trying to conceive but have not yet sought treatment from a reproductive endocrinologist, stress reduction modalities such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness have been shown to be beneficial in reducing stress.
You will need to find the best coping strategies that will work for you, and it's important to seek professional support.
Implications and information counselling for individuals / couples may concentrate on ensuring that individuals understand the various psychosocial issues involved in their treatment choices.
Therapeutic counselling may include an understanding of the emotional consequences of childlessness.
Talk the counsellor if you are experiencing decreased sexual desire or performance anxiety due to fact that sex is more than just making babies.
Maintain your physical health. Moderate exercise, healthy eating, and plenty of rest are all recommended. Every day, you will feel better if your body is balanced and revived. Other stress-relieving activities include yoga and acupuncture.
Friends & Family
Creating a healing circle with friends or family will allow you to talk about the huge loneliness you feel inside. Don’t avoid those difficult conversations.
Journaling or writing
Journaling or writing your innermost doubts and fears will give you an outlet only you can express, if sharing is not your forte.
Online support groups
You are not alone. There are multiple online forums where you can vent your frustrations about infertility. It can be comforting to know that there are others like you who are also struggling in a similar situation. If the forum exacerbates your anxiety however and it becomes more stressful, walk away.
Stress reduction techniques
Learning stress reduction techniques like deep breathing and meditation can help. Recent research has documented the efficacy of psychological interventions in lowering psychological distress, as well as being associated with significant increases in pregnancy rates.
Take time for yourself
Take a moment for yourself: take a walk, meet with friends for a meal, read a book and get lost in it.
There are plenty of resources for fertility treatment, miscarriage, failed treatment, surrogacy, donor gamete recipients and adoption. Educate yourself on clinic practices because a good, assisted conception clinic encompasses more than just medical care.
The primary goal of any counselling is to ensure that patients understand the implications of their treatment options, receive adequate emotional support, and can cope with the consequences of their infertility experience in a healthy way.
Clinic nurses are a valuable resource. They work very intimately with individuals and develop a close rapport with them that sometimes develops into lasting friendships.
The good news is that psychological interventions for women with infertility have the potential to decrease anxiety and depression, and may well lead to significantly higher pregnancy rates.
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