Navigating the Journey of Infertility
Infertility is a common condition that affects around 10% of women in the US. It happens when you’re unable to get pregnant after a year of trying, or after six months if the woman is premenopausal. It’s also worth noting that around one-third of infertility cases may be caused by issues with the man, so the inability of getting and staying pregnant can take an emotional toll on both partners
Dealing with infertility is difficult, and the struggle may cause long-lasting emotional and physical effects. However, it’s necessary to process infertility and move forward in order to pursue a positive family-building journey for the future. Here are some tips to help you navigate through the journey of infertility:
Talk about your feelings
Each person reacts to life-changing news about their infertility in different ways; some people react with acceptance and move on quickly, while others find hope in the alternative options available to them. Still, many expectant parents can be negatively affected, and even traumatized, by their experience with infertility. Mental health problems can arise through feelings of failure, shame, insecurity, grief, anger, loss, and even resentment, so it’s important to work through these feelings and arrive at a healthier perspective.
Remember, you’re not undergoing this emotional journey alone. You need to express your feelings and be honest with your partner because you’re working together as a team. You don’t need to be afraid to reach out for external help either, as friends and family can offer you support during this time. If you find well-meaning loved ones simply cannot understand what you’re going through, it may help to find an infertility support group or a therapist to guide you towards a more positive outlook.
Work with professionals
There are many medical conditions that can cause infertility, so it’s definitely crucial to connect with a medical professional if you’re struggling. This may be challenging, as access to trained personnel can be limited, especially as reproductive health strategies are rarely covered through the public health system.
Fortunately, more medical professionals are able to step up due to the increased access to advanced training online. They now have the opportunity to obtain online post master’s nursing certifications that let them practice in fertility care, and even specialize in psychiatric mental health or family health. This means that there is a much wider pool of specialists available nowadays, both remotely and in-person. This is something that has become even more critical due to the recent health crisis. Having a trained medical professional support you through infertility can ensure you remain healthy throughout the process.
Be open to alternatives
Coping with infertility has a lot to do with a sense of helplessness because you don’t really know what to do next. This is why it’s ideal to try and understand what your options are, and which alternatives can give you hope. You can look into surrogacy or other family-building methods like adoption.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) offers a number of methods to help infertile couples conceive through donor eggs, donor sperm, or even previously frozen embryos. Although ART is generally thought to be a time-consuming and expensive option, this has become more accessible in the last few years. In fact, there are even fertility marketplace apps that allow intended parents to connect easily with top fertility providers, simplifying the first step of the process.
Accepting infertility is a struggle, and many couples can be hard on themselves once they receive the news. It’s important to understand that the factors related to infertility are out of your control, so you should never blame yourself for it. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself.
Eating right, having regular check-ups, and managing stress through relaxing mind-body therapies can make you healthier and happier, leading to a less debilitating journey through infertility. And don’t neglect your partner either. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time, every act of intimacy may start to feel forced for the sole purpose of conceiving. Take a break and spend time reconnecting with your partner through romantic activities you enjoy together.
Written by Katie Lane for babyquestfoundation.org