8 Essential Ways to Cope with Infertility
You can find countless online articles about infertility (many of which are right here!). Some will tell you about stats, treatments, causes, new science, new medications, and natural remedies. They are helpful and good.
But sometimes they forget about one integral part of dealing with infertility – coping with it.
I want to stop the medical talk for a few moments and give you 8 steps to take to help you cope with the real difficulties of infertility.
1. Give Yourself Permission To Grieve…And To Get Angry
The most important thing to remember is, yes, this is a crisis you are going through. Some people feel bad for the waves of emotions – as though they should be able to “handle it” or “just deal with it.”
You need to allow yourself time and space and patience to cry, to be angry, to feel upset. These are all completely normal responses to infertility issues. You also need to realize that you are absolutely not to blame.
Once you accept the large emotional toll this process can take, it’s time to rally the troops, so to speak. Necessary support includes:
- Professional support (like a therapist)
- Fellow people with fertility problems
- Teamwork between you and your partner
- Proper support from parents and friends
2. Seek Professional Support
One of the most important things you can do to carry the heavy burden and rollercoaster of emotions from infertility is to find a support system. One of the most helpful people in that support system can be a professional.
For some of you, that means finding a psychologist or therapist. Others can find out what counselors and support groups are available – sometimes even for free. Your fertility clinic or OBGYN’s office should have a resource list.
A professional knows and understands the complexity of feelings that surround infertility. They are pros at helping women – and couples – deal with the situation. They can help you better identify and understand your feelings. Then they give you an outlet to share those feelings.
3. Find Your Tribe
One of the most helpful things in life is the “me too” – when someone can understand and appreciate all you are going through.
Finding people who are going through infertility now and finding people who have gone through it before are both such important steps in feeling supported. These people truly understand. They know how hard it is to see birth announcements from other people. They won’t tell you to “just relax.” They will be there to cry with and to laugh with.
But there’s someone else going through infertility that you cannot forget about either…
Recommended Reading: Infertility Warning Signs Every Women Looking to Conceive Should Be Aware Of
4. Remember There Are Two Of You
I realize there are some women struggling with infertility who do not have a partner, but most women do. The key is to remember that you are a team in this. You are both struggling with infertility.
And you’re probably going to grieve and deal in two very different ways.
That’s why communication and patience are key. One of you may want to talk about it a lot; the other may not want to. One may be very outwardly emotional; the other may be more inwardly emotional. One may want to read everything there is to know about infertility; the other may need a mental break sometimes.
You also need to remember that you are still a couple. There is a reason you two are together. While you are waiting for the baby, keep the love alive. Have sex just for fun, not for a goal. Go on dates. Take a weekend trip. Enjoy each other and the life you already have together.
5. Tell Family & Friends How To Respond
Chances are, everybody in your circle of people may get it all wrong. They will say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or maybe they don’t say the things you want to hear. Maybe they don’t offer the help you need, or maybe they offer too much.
Getting the right support you need from friends and family is so valuable, so sometimes you need to tell them how to respond or tell them what you need from them. Essentially, you are helping them help you.
Call them and say, “I want to talk about…” Or if they say the wrong things, tell them kindly how you don’t want to hear that. Ask them for specific needs. Maybe you want a girl’s night without any talk of babies or fertility drugs. Ask! If you need your parents to stop hovering, politely set up some new boundaries.
Otherwise, there can be division. And when you are already suffering from not being able to create your own family, losing the family/friends you already have can be devastating.
6. Get Educated
So now you have a full support system set up around you. It’s time to get down to business. Educating yourself brings freedom.
If you are not yet sure what the cause of your infertility is, go to as many doctors you need until you find out. Learn about different treatment options both natural and medical. Learn how to get any of your health problems under control. Learn about different programs or resources available to you.
Part of educating yourself is getting a second opinion. Seek another OBGYN, another high-risk pregnancy doctor, and/or another fertility specialist. Not that your doctor is bad or wrong, but another doctor may have a new, unique perspective. Or they may confirm what you already knew – which makes creating a clear plan easier.
7. Take Care Of You
Sometimes we forget to take care of our physical bodies when we are grieving or under such intense stress. But we must remember that we will feel better and cope better when we are healthy. Make sure you are moving your body (perhaps find a new workout class that you love) and eating healthy foods.
Taking care of your mind is just as important. Try stress-relieving activities like:
- Meditation or yoga
- Reading uplifting books (not just fertility books!)
- Getting a massage or facial
- Trying creative activities like writing a poem, learning an instrument, or even coloring in an adult coloring book
- Re-watching your favorite comedy series on Netflix
- Taking de-stressing herbs like Ashwaganda
Keep pursuing your interests, or find new ones. Plan an exciting new vacation. Volunteer at a local charity. Start selling your craft on Etsy. Find a local sports group.
Though you may feel like your life is not complete until you have that baby, you must remember this is still your life. Today is a part of your life. Don’t put it – or your relationship – on hold waiting for someday. You still have today, so do something that puts a smile on your face.
8. Set Up Mental Boundaries
At some point – maybe not today – you will have to start setting up some mental boundaries. This can include:
- Opening up your mind to a different path: Maybe adoption or fostering or living a life without children
- Knowing when to stop: Infertility struggles take real tolls on women and couples, there may come a time where you have to put your physical and emotional health first and say enough is enough
- Knowing how much you can spend: Fertility treatments are unbelievably expensive. Figure out how much money you are truly capable of spending.
Again, I realize that there is a time and place for this type of planning. If you’re not ready for it, wait. But eventually, making a plan will bring you a sense of peace.
Your Infertility Journey
The amazing thing is that, though everybody’s journey is a little different, nobody is alone. In fact, 1 in 8 couples deal with it. So surround yourself by supportive people who love and treasure you and try their best to lift you up during this time – that’s medical staff included.