Tips to manage the stress of infertility
A dream. A baby. Many couples expect conceiving a biological child will be natural and simple. They think it will occur without disrupting their lives. What they don’t anticipate is that in order to conceive, they may need the help of doctors, medications, and invasive procedures. They also don’t expect that the stress of infertility could last for months or even years.
For many couples, navigating such personal, uncharted territory is a life-changing experience. However, the reward at the end of the journey is nothing short of a miracle. After making the decision to move forward with treatment, managing the stress associated with the process becomes paramount.
The stress of infertility
Typically, “stress” begins with a perception of an event which is immediately followed by a biological response. This causes the release of powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action. If we perceive that the outcome is predictable and within our control, we feel safe and these “stress chemicals” remain within a normal range. In this state, we may feel energized and even productive.
However, if we perceive an event to be unsafe or even life-threatening, stress becomes extreme. Then, we enter a state of “distress”. When this kind of stress is prolonged, these chemicals can lead to physical and emotional problems. With a better understanding of how stress affects our bodies, and how to manage it, we can manage the stress of infertility.
Tips for managing the emotions
The emotional roller coaster is a natural part of the infertility experience. The excitement that occurs at the beginning of a reproductive cycle is good stress. Then, there is a period of anxiety and anticipation, waiting for a treatment result (normal, time-limited stress). Next, could be the news that the attempt was unsuccessful (bad stress). These emotional cycles, when repeated over time, may create a feeling of loss and/or loss of control (distress). As months and sometimes years pass without a successful outcome, this state can lead to secondary health issues and depression.
Strategies for managing the stress of infertility are plentiful.
- Seeking the support of others to reduce some of the emotional burden can be one very significant way to reduce stress.
- Learning to focus on what is within your control reduces fear and anxiety and allows the body to temporarily return to a state of calm.
- Removing yourself from events which trigger sadness, loss and jealousy will also allow your body to remain calmer and less reactive.
- Deliberately choosing activities that provide a sense of distraction, relaxation, and self-nurturing will enhance the quality of your daily life.
What works for one person may not work for someone else. The right answers are those that work best for you and help you achieve balance through a difficult but worthwhile journey. Contact us to learn more about managing the stress of infertility.