The stress of infertility
Finding out you have a fertility problem is stressful. There are various physical and emotional issues you must face and it may be one of the most difficult times in your life. Recognizing the impact infertility and its treatment can have on your emotional well-being is important so that you can take steps to manage your feelings and build your relationship with your partner.
For some couples, the diagnosis of infertility may come as a surprise. For other couples, they may have already suspected or known that they would have difficulty conceiving a child. But despite how unprepared or prepared a couple is about the news, the diagnosis of infertility can be stressful and cause a variety of concerns.
There may be many doctor appointments, which can cause missed days of work or other activities. Couples may feel apprehensive about fertility treatment, out of control over their situation, pressure from family or from each other, and financial stress. These factors make infertility a distressing situation.
Going through the uncertainty of a given fertility treatment can be an emotional roller coaster ride for some couples. For example, you and your partner may be full of high hopes at the beginning of a treatment cycle only to be disappointed when the outcome is negative. Just being concerned over whether or not the fertility treatment will be successful can add to the stress. Some couples may also disagree on what fertility treatment option to try.
Another concern that can add to the stress of infertility is the feeling of losing control. Many people have a plan in their lives to achieve their goals. With fertility problems, there is a possibility that no matter how hard a couple tries, they may not become pregnant – this can make a couple feel a loss of control over their bodies.
Family members may pressure the couple to have children, too. Deciding whether to tell their families about their infertility is also an issue that can add to the stress a couple is experiencing.
Infertility can cause a strain on a couple's relationship, as they may also experience pressure from each other. There may be fear that one partner may leave to find someone who is able to have children. One partner may feel more motivated to succeed in fertility treatment than their other half. Having sex at specific times to increase the chances of conceiving can also be frustrating and stressful to the point that the man may not be able to ejaculate.
Financial stress may be another worry that couples seeking fertility treatment may experience. Fertility treatment can be expensive and insurance may not cover the costs of treatment.
Fertility problems and fertility treatment may not be what you had in mind when you first decided you wanted to have a baby. Realizing that this is a trying time for you can help you cope with the stress you may be feeling.
When going through such an emotional time, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Talk to your partner, learn how to cope with stress, and seek out support through group or couples counselling.
How can stress affect fertility?
Is it true that stress causes infertility? Most likely not, but having a fertility problem is, understandably, stressful. There is no scientific evidence that being under a lot of stress can actually cause infertility.
Experts believe there is a relationship between stress and infertility, but it is secondary to the other causes of infertility. For some women, too much stress can change their hormone levels, which can delay the release of an egg or cause one to not be released at all. If a man experiences prolonged emotional stress, the amount of sperm he produces may decrease. However, there are no conclusive studies to show that the stress you feel in your day-to-day life can cause infertility.
Everyone experiences stress in their lives. Some stress can be a good thing since it can force us to get things done. Situations that cause stress don't necessarily have to be negative, either. For example, getting a promotion or moving to a new home can be positive events in your life but they can also be stressful. However, long-term stress can affect your general health and can cause depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, and decrease your ability to fight off infections.
How you manage your stress can have an impact on your emotional health. Ineffective ways to cope with stress can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle (such as poor eating habits) and can increase the risk of developing other health problems (such as heart disease and stroke).
When it comes to fertility and stress, it is important to keep your emotional health in check. How you cope with infertility or how you manage the potential struggles of fertility treatment can help reduce the impact stress has on your emotions. Though stress does not directly cause infertility, reducing your stress may help make fertility treatment an easier process.
Find effective ways to cope with stress. You may want to consider talking to your doctor or attending counselling sessions with your partner.
Steps to cope with stress
Going through fertility treatments can be a stressful time. You may be faced with many uncertainties and concerns, such as the following:
- Will the treatment be successful?
- What if our finances don't hold up?
- I feel like I'm losing control of the situation.
- How will this affect my relationship with my partner?
- How do I deal with the pressure from family and relatives?
Learning effective ways to cope with these stresses can help you gain control of your situation and maintain your emotional health.
Planning can help you cope emotionally and financially. Decide ahead of time what options are acceptable for you and your partner, both emotionally and financially. Set limits and stick to them.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce stress is to talk to your partner. Remember that you are not going through this alone. Many couples who have gone through the stress of infertility feel their relationship has grown stronger because of their experience together.
Through support groups, you can also talk to others that have experienced infertility or gone through fertility treatment. They can share their stories with how they coped with the stress of infertility. Learn more about finding emotional support here.
For some people, stress may be caused by not having all the correct information. Put some of your concerns at ease by learning about infertility and fertility treatment, and by getting informed about your insurance coverage, which can all help to reduce your stress.
Becoming knowledgeable about your situation can help you gain a sense of control and allow you to make educated decisions about fertility treatment. Consider sharing this information with family members so that they can understand what you are going through.
Your day-to-day life can be less stressful if you try the following:
- Identify your feelings and write them down. Share them with your partner.
- Try to identify other sources of stress in your life. You don't need further stress, so try to find ways to resolve them.
- Exercise regularly to relieve tension.
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine found in foods like coffee, tea, and chocolate.
- Get enough sleep everyday.
- Learn relaxation techniques such as medication, yoga, or breathing exercises.
- Make an effort to continue doing the activities you enjoy.
- Find some time every day to connect with your partner without discussing infertility.
- Be realistic about the situation. Set realistic goals and find reasonable solutions.
Finding out you have a fertility problem can be a difficult and stressful time. Examining the various treatment options available can also be very emotionally draining. But you don't have to go through the stress of infertility alone. There are many support groups available to help couples going through infertility and fertility treatment.
Support services can provide information on infertility and fertility treatments, allow the couple to feel less alone, help the couple feel normal about the experience, and provide hope and encouragement.
The first place you can look to for support is your partner. Talking to your partner about how you feel will make you feel less isolated and will allow you to cope with infertility together. Many couples grow closer and build a stronger relationship while going through the experience of infertility together.
Your health care provider can be a great source for support. Your doctor can offer medical advice. They can suggest strategies to cope with stress and give information on where you can find further support, such as a mental health professional or sex therapist.
A sex therapist is helpful for couples whose infertility is caused by a sexual problem. A sex therapist can also provide advice for a couple whose normal sex life is being affected by fertility treatment.
Many counselling programs are available. You can seek counselling from a mental health professional or a fertility counsellor. Mental health professionals can teach couples how to effectively manage stress and help them come to an agreement on treatment options.
Counsellors who are experienced in fertility issues can provide help to couples who are going through infertility and its treatments. Couples whose relationship is suffering because of the stress of infertility may find counselling helpful.
Joining a support group can be helpful, too. Support groups foster contact with other people who are also experiencing fertility problems. Talking with people who have been through infertility can help couples feel less alone.
Support group members can also help each other by providing tips and stories on how they are coping with the stress of infertility. Success stories shared through support groups can also give couples struggling with infertility a sense of hope.
Many fertility clinics offer these types of support services. Remember that these support services are there to help you cope with the stress of infertility. You don't have to go through this alone.