If you’re having a hard time coping with infertility, you’re not alone. Infertility is a disease and it is not to be taken lightly. There has been much research showing that the psychological stress that women experience when confronted with their inability to conceive is similar to that of women who are faced with chronic illnesses.
Some of the symptoms may include:
- Lack of control
Inevitably these symptoms can develop into depression and are very common emotions experienced by couples with infertility problems. The stress which these problems create and the intensely personal nature of an infertility evaluation and the various treatments can take a great emotional toll.
We encourage couples to meet with a mental health professional, or counselor experienced with infertility issues. The support offered by these specialists may help you to manage your stress as you go through the treatment process. We are always available to talk with you but sometimes it is more helpful to go to someone outside our center who is qualified in counseling couples who are going through this difficult time in their lives.
While you are welcome to look online for counseling, we have had patients receive help from the following:
Meg Grundy, LCSW, Psychotherapist
Karen Waggener, Xtraordinary Fertility, professional coach
Nationwide Support Groups and Organizations
Resolve—The National Infertility Association, provides access to advocacy services for women and men coping with infertility problems. Resolve also provides information on the emotional aspects of infertility including tips for coping and dealing with family, friends, and coworkers. This information can be found on the Resolve website.Here are some tips we have gathered from Resolve and other sources, including our own patients:
- Overcome isolation from your family…build a bridge back to your loved ones. Anyone can be educated about infertility and be taught to be more helpful and supportive of your journey. Let them know how you want to be treated.
- Give yourself permission to cry and be angry. If you need to cry about the unfairness of it all, then go ahead. Don’t bury your feelings, it takes more energy to hide them than to let them out.
- Give your spouse/partner permission to feel and cope differently from you. Resolve says: “If you’re a wife, don’t waste energy trying to get your husband to feel as devastated as you do. If you’re a husband, don’t try to get your wife to be “more like a man,” forgetting about infertility except when she’s at the doctor’s office or in the bedroom.”
- Let your spouse/partner know when you want to be helped. No one is a mind reader. Try to verbalize your fears.
- Inform yourself!!!
- Temper your communication sessions: Try what Resolve calls,“The Twenty Minute Rule” and try to limit the amount of time you talk about infertility in any one evening.
They also have a section on “Infertility Etiquette“…a very well written piece on “what not to say” to an infertile that can be passed along to relatives and friends.
The American Fertility Association is another reputable and invaluable source of information and advice. The American Fertility Association (The AFA), a 501 (c) (3) national non-profit organization is a lifetime resource for infertility prevention, reproductive health and family building. AFA services and materials are provided free of charge to consumers and available to everyone without reservation. These services include leading-edge educational outreach events, an extensive online library with HD videos, a daily blog, a resource directory available for download on mobile devices, telephone and in-person coaching, and a toll-free support line. The toll-free Information and Support Line is: (888) 917-3777. This is the number to call for information about membership, support groups, to find professionals, and to answer overall patient questions. An AFA staff member is available live Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET. They also offer in-person support groups and educational seminars, as well as telephone coaching groups.
Alternative Treatments For Relaxation
Fertility treatments can cause women to feel stressed and out of sorts. Some find that relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga or acupuncture can help them find balance and harmony.
Yoga classes for beginners are available in both Salinas and Monterey. The discipline of yoga addresses physical, mental and emotional issues that block the human body. In fact, many proponents of yoga for infertility believe in the power of yoga in helping them to conceive and have a baby. Yoga, an ancient practice of physical exercises, breathing rituals and meditations, has been studied and practiced for thousands of years. You can practice yoga alone in the comfort of your home or use a DVD to help get you started. Most gyms and fitness centers offer yoga classes for all fitness levels.
Acupuncture is an option used by some of our patients. They report back to us that the experience is very calming and helps them tremendously during pre and post infertility treatments. Acupuncture can safely be used prior to and concurrently with fertility medications and procedures such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). We have a number of patients who have gone to local acupuncturists and have come back to us saying how much it has helped them relax. Patients have chosen to receive acupuncture treatment in combination with IVF and other fertility treatments, which we encourage. While current studies do not show improved pregnancy rates with the combination of IVF and acupuncture treatment, we look forward to seeing the results of research studies to clarify these important questions.
Studies have shown that acupuncture:
- Calms the nervous system
- Improves blood flow through the pelvic region
- May improve pregnancy rates when used in conjunction with IVF
We refer our patients to the following acupuncturists for their treatments:
Paris Healing Arts with Laura Paris DACM
Medical Acupuncture with Dr. Laurie Kleinman, M.D.