Infertility is the inability to conceive even after having regular unprotected sex for at least a year or more.  Not being able to conceive after a year of trying could have an emotional toll on both the man and the woman who are trying to have a baby.  The emotional stress of infertility can manifest itself in various ways and it can affect different people in different ways.  The stress could be due to societal expectations or even the pressure that you place on yourself.

Signs of emotional stress

Some of the common symptoms of emotional stress due to infertility could include feeling sad or depressed, having anxiety or even having suicidal thoughts, feeling angry often at your partner, family or friends or even yourself, feeling guilty, not being able to concentrate on work or other day to day activities, losing appetite and not being able to sleep.  You might feel like you are going through a cyclic rollercoaster of emotions.  The menstrual cycle could begin with feelings of hope that this month you might conceive, and then feeling anxious about trying to find out when you are ovulating to determine the best time to have sex and then trying to wait patiently to find out if you are indeed pregnant.  If you aren’t pregnant, it could be utterly devastating and you realize that you have to go through this all over again.  After trying this over and over again for over a year, you might feel like a robot just going through the motions and you might be extremely discouraged.  It could put a strain in your relationship and it might also be hard to see other couples succeed in having kids while you struggle with feelings of jealousy and anger. 

How about IVF?

One of the treatments for infertility could be Invitro fertilization (IVF) which is a procedure where a woman’s eggs are retrieved from her ovaries, fertilized with sperm in a laboratory setting, and the resulting embryo is transferred back into the uterus for implantation.  There is a sense of shame, fear and trepidation when going through IVF for the first time because you don’t know what it entails.  But there is also enormous hope that this advanced technology could finally fulfill your dreams of having a child.  Before going through IVF, a whole battery of tests might be done to determine the cause for the infertility and also to see if you are healthy enough to have a baby.  If the cause for the infertility is known, then that problem might need to be rectified before going through IVF.  If the cause for the infertility is unexplained, going through IVF could still improve the chances of a successful outcome.  IVF itself could be confusing and hectic with all the various appointments, ultrasound scans, numerous hormonal injections, taking various medications at set specific times, blood tests and on and on.  It might seem very invasive and you might need to overcome your fear of needles when you have to self administer various hormonal injections.  When you have already been dealing with infertility for so long and then trying IVF, it may all seem very overwhelming and chaotic.  Trying to do everything properly as per the doctor’s instructions along with listening to advice from family and friends about what you should or shouldn’t do when trying to conceive could bring about a lot of stress that you end up bringing on yourself.  After the embryo is transferred into the uterus, the two week wait could be agonizing.  You might be acutely aware of all the tiny twitches or anything else going on in your body and wondering if you are or are not pregnant.  A delay in your period could raise your hopes and spotting (which is quite common in IVF patients) could send your mind racing.  Some of the emotional upheaval could also be due to the side effects of the hormones and medications you are taking.  Going through a failed IVF could lead to grief, depression, self blame and guilt that maybe you did something wrong while also dealing with intense feelings of loss.   Sometimes you might have to deal with a miscarriage also after a successful conception which will cause even more self guilt and emotional turmoil.  Following this, you might then have to figure out what your next steps will be.  Do you give up on your dream of having a family or do you continue trying for another IVF.  All these things could tremendously affect your emotional and mental state.

What to do

Educate yourself on what IVF entails, speak to doctors in detail about it and ask them all your questions even if they seem trivial.  Learn how to live a healthy lifestyle which could include following a good diet, removing various other stressors in your life, getting regular exercise and enough sleep.  You should stop smoking, drinking excessive alcohol and caffeine.  These could improve your fertility. 

Have frank discussions with your partner about how you will support each other and how to be prepared for this.  Will you need to take a break from work, what will you do if the IVF fails, what will you do with any extra embryos left over, what will you do in various scenarios during the treatment, how will you pay for the treatment, will you tell your friends and family about undergoing treatment.  Discussing these things could put your mind at ease in case these situations do arise and you aren’t left trying to make decisions at the last minute.  

It’s important to find an IVF clinic that meets your requirements and where you feel comfortable.  So, do research on which are the top clinics that are a good fit for you and visit these clinics to find out if you have good rapport with the doctor, what are their success rates,  if they offer all the services that you might need on site, are the staff friendly and various other things.  Find out about other peoples experiences with the clinic.   Write down all your questions and address them with your doctor. 

Learn the art of meditation, doing yoga, journaling, or taking up a new hobby.  Go watch a movie, go for a walk or go out with your friends to take your mind off any negative or stressful thoughts.  Join a support group or confide in your partner, a close friend or family to talk things through and alleviate any unwanted stress.  You could also talk to a therapist if you feel it’s needed, to teach you techniques on how to cope.  There are many people who are also dealing with the same things as you and you shouldn’t feel that you need to overcome this adversity by yourself.  When dealing with infertility, you might feel you need to give up on the dream of having children, but don’t lose hope by talking to your doctor, educating yourself, learning how to relax and trying to do everything within your capacity to make your dream a reality.  Finding out that you are finally pregnant could take you to the heights of elation and finding out that it was unsuccessful could take you down to the depths of despair.  With proper self-care and support you can thrive on this journey and come out stronger by conquering your fears and taking charge of your life.  Come talk to us at Xenith Advanced Fertility Centre about any emotional issues you might be dealing with due to infertility and we can try to make your dreams a reality.