Struggling with infertility is mentally, emotionally and physically draining.
Trust me, I get it. Not only have I been personally through the ups and downs of infertility but I see its impact every day on my patients seeking fertility care. Fertility is something that many take for granted but for many others, doesn’t seem to work. Dreams of having a family are altered, your relationship with your partner and others are tested, and the medications used in fertility treatment may adversely impact how you feel.
So, today I am sharing some tips on how to keep your mental health in check with ways to relieve stress during fertility treatments.
- Practice Self-Care. Think about how you would approach someone else undergoing the same process – it would likely be with compassion, being present and allowing that individual to express themselves. It is so easy to practice compassion towards others but we forget that we actually need to ourselves with that same compassion. Take time for yourself.
- Talk to Someone. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member with whom you feel comfortable to express your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, find a therapist or support group—in person or online. The internet has made it easier to find people going through the same journey. It’s amazing how beneficial it can be just to express oneself.
- Allow Your Mind and Body to Relax. Think of ways you normally decompress after a long week of work and use those techniques whenever fertility treatments become overwhelming. Take a bubble bath, meditate, or get a massage. Whatever the method, the key is to find ways that help you truly relax; anything you can do to lower your heart rate and gently quiet your thoughts will help reverse the impact of stress. Mind-body programs for fertility patients have been around for more than a decade and for good reason – Alice Domar, PhD and her colleagues have repeatedly observed improvements in fertility treatment success when couples regularly participate in relaxation activities. I, for one, practice daily mindfulness with meditation to achieve a quiet mind; it helps me on so many levels. And I feel the difference mentally, emotionally and physically, when I don’t give myself that dedicated time.
- Sometimes a good work out is all that is needed to shake off stress. Studies have shown that exercising even 10 minutes per day improves mood! It can be as simple as going for a brisk walk outdoors. The change in scenery combined with “feel good” endorphins can improve how we feel, including being less stressed.
- Accept what you can and cannot control. Please realize that this is different than giving up or feeling hopeless. Unfortunately, having infertility is something that you didn’t decide to have; it’s something that happened without you actively deciding to do so. And while this is stressful in and of itself, it’s important to know that by seeking treatment, you are taking control of the situation you are in. Allow the medical team to take care of you and frankly, stress for you. This outlook has helped many of my patients navigate their infertility journey.
I hope that some of these tips will help you reduce the stress that you will likely feel while undertaking fertility treatments. Wishing you all the best in your journey from infertility to family.