Dealing with Stress and Infertility
Tara Joyner, LPC
Therapist Tara Joyner knows all about stress and infertility. She went through in-vitro fertilization and months of grueling treatment. Five years later, she is experiencing a new class of anxiety—learning how to let go as she sends her twins to Kindergarten.
At Texas Fertility Center, our fertility doctors and nurses work with counselors and therapists to help our patients cope with the demanding and stressful task of getting pregnant with medical assistance. We asked Tara to share some coping skills she recommends to her clients.
Infertility Stress Reducers & Relaxation Inducers
- Stretch your imagination. Meditation is a proven stress reliever that uses visual imagery to help you envision and focus on a positive outcome (i.e. I will get pregnant). Unless you’re sitting in a therapist’s office, you may not know how to practice meditation … to personally define what it means, what it looks like, and what is its goal. Tara suggests doing some background research, and finding online meditation podcasts that focus on infertility. In Austin, many meditation centers allow you to try guided meditation for free.
- Explore the upside of the down dog. For many people, exercise is a go-to for stress relief. Unfortunately, your infertility doctor prescribes a less intense workout regimen during a treatment cycle. Tara encourages her clients to try yoga. Not sweltering, vigorous Vinyasa, but classes that have soothing descriptors: gentle, flow, restorative. Some studios have classes specifically designed for enhancing fertility.
- Find your strength in numbers. As an LPC, Tara believes in ‘talking about it,’ whether that is one-on-one or with a support group. She says larger support groups may not be the best fit for everyone. “Peer-led groups help with shared struggles, and some people find it very helpful. For some, however, a group setting will intensify their focus on infertility.” Check in with yourself after a support group meeting, she says. “If you feel relieved when you are leaving – hopeful and positive – and you are letting go of anxiety, it’s a good match. If you feel less hopeful or deflated, then it’s probably not a good fit.” If you find the interaction overwhelming, but want to share information, she suggests plugging in to an online community within the support group.
- Treat yourself. Recognizing the cost of fertility treatment, Tara suggests finding an affordable way to treat yourself to anything that appeals to your senses—sights, aromas, sounds, tastes. Book a spa service, go out for a nice dinner, walk through a beautiful park. “A lot of my clients tell me that when they treat themselves to a rare night out, they come home feeling really happy.”
- Limit your conversation. Some couples going through infertility lose sight of their relationship, Tara says. They become unhappy, and resent the infertility treatment process. Talk all you want on dates, she says, but infertility is taboo. Tara recommends that you prioritize a date night during which you do not talk about infertility. Period.
- Boost your mood with dopamine and serotonin. The Omega 3 fatty acids found naturally in foods like salmon, flax seed, anchovies and walnuts are natural anti-depressants. Also, studies show that a carb-loaded meal increases the level of tryptophans in your system, the amino acid that forms serotonin. (Be careful to maintain a healthy BMI during fertility treatment, though.)
Finally, Tara ends with a plug for her industry. Men and women going through infertility are often so concerned with wearing out their friends or partners, that they often don’t say anything at all. They don’t want to come across as negative, so these men and women just end up keeping feelings inside and feeling hopeless. Plus, when people experiencing infertility do share, family members may have an agenda.
“Families are emotionally invested—they want a grandson, a niece, a nephew—so are not, necessarily, the best people to talk to about infertility. A therapist, separate from your immediate support system, is helpful because you can talk it out without negatively impacting your support network.”
Tara Joyner is a licensed professional counselor in Austin who, for nearly a decade, has helped bring healing to couples and individuals faced with infertility, intimacy barriers and other challenges.
To contact Tara for an appointment:
phone (512) 337-3858
| Category: Texas Fertility Center