How To Cope With Infertility
Sharing feelings is very important when you have to effectively deal with infertility. Family and friends may not really comprehend what infertility means, and what you are going to and mat at times make an insensitive remark.
Talking to close friends and family members will definitely ease the pain. Whats more, you could even visit a counselor to help you tide over this phase.
Why Is Depression And Anxiety So Prevalent For People With Infertility Struggles
It may not come as a surprise that a number of studies have found that the incidence of depression in infertile couples is significantly higher than in those that are not.
50% of people undergoing fertility treatment have called it the worst experience of their entire lives.
Studies also show that the emotional impact of an infertility diagnosis is the same as a diagnosis of cancer.
But why is infertility such a psychological burden? The answer is far more complex and subsconscious than you may think.
All through childhood and adolescence girls and women receive the message that it is important to have children of their own.
Little girls play with dolls and newborn dolls and are very accustomed to the identity of being a mother. Feeling unable to meet engrained societal and intergenerational expectations can be a difficult thing to bear.
Some researchers foundthat women who later in life face infertility challenges say they experienced feelings of incompetence, as well as loss of identity.
Sometimes this type of depression is camouflaged and may lead to the conscious and subconscious sabotage of your attempts at conceiving to limit the chance of disappointment.
For example, you may some women say they found themselves intentionally avoiding having intercource durning your fertile window to avoid the disappointment when your period starts.
For women, pregnancy and motherhood are part of the milestones that have been emphasized by cultures globally.
How To Treat Depression During Infertility Treatment
If youre experiencing any symptoms of a low mood or depression, talk to your infertility doctor. It may help your doctor diagnose your infertility and better manage your treatment and overall care.
You may have a hormonal imbalance that helps explain your infertility and depression. Or, if youre taking fertility drugs like synthetic estrogen it may explain mood swings, anxiety and aggravate depression. Your specialist may be able to make changes in your medication to help, refer you to the appropriate fertility counselor or mental health professional. Or even suggest taking a short break from treatment.
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The Mind/body Program For Infertility
It is evident that infertility patients experience distress, depression, anxiety, and decreased quality of life. It is important for infertility providers and counselors to offer assistance to these patients by way of psychological interventions and emotional support.
The Mind/Body Program for Infertility was created and launched in September 1987. Because psychological interventions for infertile patients can improve psychological outcomes and marital relationships34 as well as increase patient retention and improve pregnancy rates,25 it was hypothesized that a research-based clinical program had the potential to accomplish all of these goals. The program has ten sessions, is a group model, and the partners of participants attend three of these sessions. Mind/Body therapy has been proven a successful way to reduce stress and increase pregnancy rates35 and provides patients with skills in cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, lifestyle changes, journaling, self-awareness, and social support components.
The Mind/Body program includes two sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy which is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. Participants challenge automatic thought patterns, such as I will never have a baby,the infertility is all my fault, or my husband is going to leave me for a fertile woman.
The Psychological Impact Of Infertility
When people experience any kind of grief, in this case, being unable to procreate, they experience certain stages of loss such as shock, denial, anger, negotiation, sadness, and acceptance.
These stages may vary in their sequence and in the duration. In order to reach the stage of acceptance, it is important to feel grief through all its stages.
Therefore, a couple may first not agree that there is anything wrong with them.
They may then experience anger which may be directed towards each other, towards other couples who have children.
They try to avoid social interactions with others. Feelings of anger when anyone questions them about having children is normal.
During the negotiation phase, they may turn to God or other superstitions.
Some even channelize their frustration positively by starting support groups for people dealing with infertility, in the hope that this may make them feel better.
It is the acceptance stage which is important, whereby a couple seeks medical advice to deal with their problem. Infertility and Depression can be equally severe for a man as for a woman as male infertility impacts the self esteem and confidence of a man greatly.
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You May Have Trouble Sleeping
Theres a complicated interplay between fertility, sleep, and depression.
Researchers in 2022 suggested that many people experiencing infertility often have a hard time getting a good nights rest. Disrupted sleep and sleep deprivation can also worsen fertility concerns.
For example, people with sleep trouble may have a harder time conceiving and may have a higher risk of losing a pregnancy early. More research needs to be done to understand why this link exists, though.
For many people, lack of sleep triggers or worsens depression symptoms like:
defines infertility as not getting pregnant after 1 year of sex without birth control. Since fertility changes as you get older, many doctors will start treatment after 6 months for people over 35 years old or after two miscarriages.
The reports that 15 percent of reproductive-age couples worldwide are affected by infertility.
Depression and fertility concerns are closely linked, but that doesnt mean theres nothing you can do about the symptoms you have. Heres a quick rundown of common depression treatments to consider if you have fertility challenges.
Coping With Infertility: 5 Tips To Overcoming Infertility
Infertility is perceived as a problem across all cultures and societies and affects an estimated 10%-15% of couples of reproductive age. In recent years, the number of couples seeking treatment for infertility has dramatically increased due to factors such as postponement of childbearing in women, development of newer and more successful techniques for infertility treatment, and increasing awareness of available services. The constant stress, the money that goes into fertility treatments, negative pregnancy tests, and the stress of the non-fulfillment of a wish for a child has been associated with emotional sequences such as anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems, social isolation, and compromised mental health.
Infertility anxiety, depression, and stress are all common consequences, as well as a loss of identity and diminished self-esteem. Up to 61 percent of infertile women report feelings of higher levels of anxiety and depression than fertile women, with nearly 40% struggling with depression and 87% experiencing anxiety. These can all take immense tolls on the psyche and the best way to combat this is to learn how to cope with this unfair stage of life. It is important to note that there is no fast cure to feeling better. It takes time and lots of patience, but it is within reach. Infertility can take over your life if you let it, but learning to cope is the first stepping stone to beginning your recovery.
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Try A Little Tenderness
This one, especially, applies to the men and women dealing with infertility. The trial-and-error process of conceiving is stressful for both and can leave a lot to be desired in other aspects of the relationship.
So, try a little tenderness toward each other. A special meal, an after-dinner stroll, or a simple hug can make a world of difference on the toughest of days.
How To Deal With Infertility Depression: What To Do First
Maybe you think marital counseling is for couples fighting over money issues, or breaking up over an affair. But therapy is really beneficial when you are struggling to get pregnant. And there are plenty of psychologists who specialize in the topic of infertility. Therapy may actually bring the two of you closer together. And then give you a neutral space to express your sadness, anger, guilt, or whatever else is on your mind.
Take three months off before you try again. Give yourself a chance to get out from under all that pressure and the expectation every month of, Did it work? Just going back to living your normal life can be a huge mood boost.
Reshape your routine so that you are engaging in positive activities, especially ones that focus on improving someone elseâs circumstances. Infertility can make you feel stuck. Youâve put everything on hold until you know whether or not you can start a family. Doing things that take the focus off you and your problems can expand your universe and help you gain a different perspective.
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Does Infertility Increase The Risk Of Depression
Multiple studies have found that infertility in both women and men can increase stress, depression, and anxiety. Further, early pregnancy loss can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder .
In addition, hormonal imbalances that cause infertility may also contribute to mood disorders including depression. Hormone therapy to treat infertility, treatment failure and the isolation associated with infertility can also lead to depression.
Write Down What You Dont Feel Comfortable Saying Out Loud
In at least one study from 2017 , a journaling method known as expressive writing effectively lowered depression symptoms in women with infertility.
Study participants spent 20 minutes privately writing about how their fertility challenges made them feel especially those feelings they didnt feel comfortable sharing with others. Writing out their feelings did not magically erase anxiety, but it did have a positive effect on depression, researchers said.
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You Dont Have To Feel This Way
Infertility can be heartbreaking. Going through testing and treatment can be tiring. It is certainly normal to experience sadness and even anger at times. But infertility does not have to take over your life. While it may be common for those with infertility experience depression or anxiety, that doesnt mean it is inevitable.
You dont have to suffer. Theres help out there.
Million People Struggle With Infertility Each Year Here’s How To Cope If You’re One Of Them
When youre dealing with infertility, it can feel like you and your partner are alone in a sea of happy new families. Thats both understandable and untrue. The truth is that nearly one in six couples in the U.S. 7.3 million people annually struggle with infertility after at least one year of trying. Though popular culture often portrays the woman as more likely to struggle with issues of infertility, reproductive problems are fairly equally spread between women and men. And silence about the issue hampers understanding.
Infertility treatments have been shown to successfully help 90 percent of couples to eventually conceive, but only 50 percent of those struggling with infertility actually seek medical intervention, according to research published in Human Reproduction. Why the delay is getting help? Depression, guilt, and shame all play an unfortunate role in holding couples back. Regardless of which partner is facing fertility issues, men tend to assume an inordinate amount of the blame, says Connie Shapiro, Ph.D., an infertility expert in Champaign, Illinois, and author of When Youre Not Expecting: An Infertility Survival Guide. You feel like youve put your life on hold to try and get pregnant, and there is a real frustration that nothing either partner does is making a difference.
What To Do First
Ways To Cope
Other Mood Boosters
*Follow the 20-Minute Rule. Limit talk about infertility to 20 minutes max every night.
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You Want To Eat All The Time Or Not At All
Food can be a drug. Do you find yourself eating to numb your emotions? Do you binge and then feel guilty for eating so much? Theres nothing wrong with having a treat once in awhile. The difference between emotional eating and enjoying a treat is the enjoyment factor.
Often, when someone is eating to numb difficult feelings, the person feels worse and not better after indulging. Alternatively, some people lose their appetites during times of extreme stress. Changes in your eating patterns, as well as changes in your weight, can be signs of depression.
The Lasting Trauma Of Infertility
Even when it ends with a healthy baby, a long struggle to conceive may exact a brutal toll.
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Im handing over the newsletter this week to Regina Townsend, the founder of The Broken Brown Egg, an infertility website and community centered on the experiences of women of color. Shes writing about the intersection of infertility and mental health. Heres a link to our infertility section for more on I.V.F., I.U.I. and other treatments and issues.
I recently came across a quotation by Vincent van Gogh, and it triggered something in me. There may be a great fire in our soul, but no one ever comes to warm himself by it, all that passers-by can see is a little smoke, van Gogh wrote, in an 1880 letter to his brother, Theo. The line haunted me for days I was struck by this concept of the fire within. How many people do we pass every single day who are carrying around raging fires who have a passion or a pain inside that is so great they can barely contain it?
For me, and for thousands of other people, infertility is that raging fire.
Psychologists must understand that infertility is a trauma, and often a complex trauma, Bradow writes. While anxiety, depression, and grief and loss are all a part of the psychological impact of infertility, there is much more to the experience which is defined by the individual.
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Dealing With Infertility Depression
- Never take for granted that family and friends understand what you are thinking, feeling and your needs.
- You dont need to put on a brave front always
- Identify your true feelings and communicate them.
- Also, writing your thoughts is a very useful exercise.
- Become conscious of the anger that you may direct towards yourself, your partner, and your family and friends.
- Understand what you expect from yourself. Understand what you expect of others.
- Always remember that infertility can cause vulnerability and a loss of control.
- Acknowledge your own feelings.
- As you look in to treatment alternatives, you can spot in advance, the occasions when you will have difficulties. As a couple, plan to make these occasions easier.
Can Infertility Cause Depression
Infertility and depression statistics indicate that women with fertility problems are, as a group, as depressed and anxious as women with heart disease, HIV or cancer. Men, too, feel the emotional effects studies show they are at risk for anxiety, depression, and decreased self-esteem.
But because infertility is generally not viewed as a disease, it can be difficult for others to understand these implications. Those who are facing infertility are left feeling isolated, lonely and misunderstood all common factors in depression.
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Fighting The Stigma And Shame
Compared to white women, women of color are more likely to experience infertility, says Dr. Sinmi Bamgbose, reproductive psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai.
Furthermore, women of color might be more likely to be blamed for their own infertility or have their emotional pain and valid medical concerns dismissed or ignored by a physician.
“In communities of color, there’s this general idea that women are naturally fertile, and there’s a lot of importance placed on childbearing and being a strong mother,” Dr. Bamgbose says.
“When a woman of color can’t fulfill that duty, it may be harder to seek treatment for infertility or her mental health because she’s not getting support from her family.”
It’s not just infertility itself that can cause distress.
Infertility And Depression: Symptoms And How To Deal With It
Infertility and depression are closely linked with each other. With the sad news of infertility, all hopes of ever having a family are ruthlessly thrown to the side. As some couples may say, it is like finding the end of the rainbow but without its pot of gold.
Making infertility even more depressing is the fact that there are no signs for its coming. As a result, whenever it is confirmed, couples dreams are thrown back at their faces. If infertility is bad enough for those who experienced only secondary infertility, imagine the mental anguish it causes to those who were not given the gift of a baby at all.
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Youre Struggling With Sex
When youre trying to get pregnant, you often need to have sex when you dont feel like it. This can alter the way a couple approaches sex even when they arent required to have it. Also, infertility shame can lead to seeing your sex life as a broken baby-making machine. You may forget that sex is much more than for making babies. This can seriously impact your sex life.
Problems some couples may experience include:
- A decrease in sexual desire
- Performance anxiety or erectile dysfunction
Depression and anxiety can also worsen your sexual health. Also, some hormonal imbalances can also impact your sex life. Sex may be painful due to reproductive diseases, like endometriosis. This can, in turn, harm your sex life.
If youre experiencing sexual difficulties, its important that you not only consider counseling but also let your fertility doctor know.