Many people have been affected by infertility or know someone who has, but struggling to conceive can be a very private issue that leaves you feeling depressed, ashamed, hopeless, or guilty. If you and a partner are going through this journey together, infertility can throw a wrench into your relationship, making it difficult for both of you to talk about how you feel.
In many ways, coping with infertility can feel like mourning. You may have tried many fertility treatments without success or received news that you or your partner have a condition that makes conceiving difficult or impossible. As you deal with disappointing moments and grieve what you have lost, honestly acknowledging your feelings and find support are essential for facilitating your healing.
Struggling with infertility? Let’s start processing with online counseling at Thriving Lane.
Building a Strong Support System
If you are dealing with infertility, it is easy to feel isolated in your pain. You have may have tried sharing your feelings with a family member or friend only to receive comments or “pieces of advice” that did more harm than good. While being able to acknowledge and speak about your emotions can help you better process and accept what you’re experiencing, it is important to build a healthy network of people who can support you along this journey.
Part of creating your support system is choosing a couple of people who you can trust and who you feel comfortable with confiding in. These individuals should be people you value, people you look up to, people who can give helpful advice, and, of course, can keep whatever you say in complete confidence.
Joining a support group with other women who are going through a similar situation can also provide you with a safe, nurturing place to talk. There are also support groups available for couples that you and your spouse can attend together.
As you learn who you can go to for support, it helps to be clear and honest with your loved ones on what kind of care and support you need. Your needs are unique, and you may want frequent check-ins or need space to internally process things alone. You may need to communicate when the support you want is for someone to simply listen and be there instead of to give advice and try to fix the issue.
Addressing Relationship Strains
While your support system can include anyone you feel comfortable sharing with, a part of the coping process is tackling relationship difficulties as they come. While your relationship with your partner may bring along the most stress, you may also experience bumps in the road with parents, friends, other family members, and any older children you may have.
For couples struggling with infertility together, the pressure of trying to conceive can take a major toll on your relationship’s intimacy and affect your and your partner’s satisfaction with sex. Be honest with your partner to help sort through any feelings of resentment or shame, and try to find space to simply spend time together or do something you both enjoy. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate your feelings to one another, a therapist can help guide these conversations and give tips on how to speak honestly and openly in the future.
Understand that infertility can take a toll on your whole family. Parents of infertile couples may have to deal with their own feelings of grief and loss, and they may feel helpless in knowing how to help their children cope.
Couples often struggle with learning how to maintain open communication with family and friends while establishing healthy boundaries when needed. It can be incredibly difficult when family members are not supportive or not in agreement with your choices, such as deciding whether or not to pursue fertility treatments.
While family and friends can be a huge source of support in helping you cope with the pain of infertility, much of your healing will be internal. Learning how to cope will be a daily struggle, and you will need to be intentional in providing yourself with the care and love you need to be mentally and physically healthy. Here are a few self-care methods to incorporate into your routine.
Take Time for Yourself
An important part of caring for yourself through this healing process is setting aside time to simply relax or do something you enjoy. This can mean reading a book, traveling somewhere new, gardening, or really anything that help you feel excited or at peace.
Enjoy Being Active
Try to incorporate exercise and movement into your daily routine. This can include light activity, such as daily walks, hikes, yoga, and stretching. Or you can pursue an exciting sport or activity you love, such as weightlifting, running, or martial arts. Getting your body moving can have a significant positive impact on your mental health and gives you opportunities to learn new skills and make goals you can work toward.
Make Healthy Eating Fun
A bad diet can take a toll on both your physical and mental health, making you fatigued, uncomfortable, and depressed. Make eating healthy an adventure by shopping for new foods, trying out fun recipes, or even growing your own fruits and vegetables.
Learning how to be mindful of what you’re feeling and sensing can help you better acknowledge your emotions and learn effective methods for reducing stress and anxiety. Mindfulness practices can include meditation, breathing practices, and repeating self-affirmations.
If you’re not used to practicing mindfulness, it can be difficult to slow down and embrace the present. However, it is a practice that will feel more natural with time and help you work through negative emotions in a healthy way.
When To See a Mental Health Specialist for Infertility
A therapist who understands what you’re going through and realizes the impact infertility can have on your emotional health and relationships can help guide you through the difficult emotions you’re sure to experience. This can look like helping you sort through well-meaning, but misguided, comments from family and friends or exploring how you can re-establish intimacy with your spouse.
Thriving Lane offers a refreshing approach to women’s mental health, and our psychiatrists are deeply passionate about helping women discover their true potentials and thrive. While we help women in every stage of life, some of our areas of expertise include reproductive issues, perinatal and postpartum therapy, relationship struggles, mood disorders, major life transitions, and more.
We blend a variety of strategies to help you not only cope with difficult life situations but achieve healing in every aspect of your life. We’re always happy to lend a listening ear when needed and explore how holistic strategies, like nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness practices can help support your mental health. Our tailored treatment plans can incorporate medicine, psychotherapy, CBT, group support, and more.
We know that talking about infertility can be hard and that there is no shortage of ugly words to describe what you’re feeling. Depressed, infuriated, despaired, and humiliated — your emotions are real and justified. We’re here to walk through this journey alongside you and provide a safe place for you to process everything you’re going through.
Want to talk? Book an appointment with us online today.
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