Many patients notice an impact on their mental health during infertility. Going through fertility testing and treatments can feel like an emotional roller coaster. While patients often focus on keeping their bodies healthy to increase chances of pregnancy, it’s equally important to protect your mental wellbeing. Fortunately, many resources exist to support people experiencing infertility.
Mental Health Counseling for Infertility
Infertility comes with a variety of complex feelings, and it’s important to have a space to openly share and process these feelings. A professional counselor experienced in infertility can provide a wonderful outlet to process and share your hopes, concerns, anxieties, and joys during your fertility journey. Your health insurance may cover counseling, or you may be able to find counselors who use a sliding scale for patient fees. If therapy is not available to you, there are many free support groups for people experiencing infertility. You can find a searchable list of support groups at the National Infertility Association website. In addition, ask your fertility clinic if they have their own counselors and resources for finding additional support.
Create Non-Fertility Related Time
Often, a fertility journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Testing, diagnosis, and trying different treatments all take time, and it can sometimes feel like your whole life revolves around the latest test results or tracking your cycles. It can really help to consciously set aside time dedicated to anything but fertility. This might look like joining a regular interest group such as a weekly book club with a friend, planning evening time for hobbies, or setting a regular date night with your partner. Nourishing your spirit and your relationships can help you find joy and ground you during the ups and downs of fertility treatment.
Self-Care Is Mental Health Care During Infertility
Self-care, at its heart, is the act of prioritizing your own needs and taking steps to support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This can look like:
- Finding joyful forms of movement for your body
- Prioritizing rest and sleep
- Eating food that nourishes your body and your senses
- Reaching out to your community for support
- Practicing mindfulness or meditation
In general, and especially during infertility, taking care of your body also benefits your mental health. If taking these steps for yourself feels challenging, consider asking a friend or loved one to help. Maybe they can come over to cook a delicious meal with you, or join you for a daily walk. Remember, self-care is never selfish; it is an essential part of caring for your health.
Protect Your Energy and Emotions
Infertility requires a lot of physical, mental, and emotional energy. Patients can experience discomfort or mood swings from IVF medications, or need to rest after a procedure. Patients need time to grieve and process after an unsuccessful treatment cycle. It’s a complex journey, and it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t experienced it to understand.
While you navigate infertility, you can support your mental health by allowing yourself to step away from extra obligations and focus on what you need. This might look like taking a break from socializing for a little while, asking for additional support at work, or declining an invitation to a baby shower. It can also help to set boundaries around how and with whom you talk about your experience with infertility. Even well-intentioned acquaintances and loved ones can offer unhelpful or hurtful comments and advice. Focus on the people in your life who raise your spirits, and change the subject with those who don’t.
PNWF Cares About Your Mental Health During Infertility
Your experience during fertility is unique and valid. At the same time, you’re not alone: there are many others navigating the same challenges. You deserve to have support, care, and compassion along your journey. Our team is here to help you find that support. To learn more, reach out to us – we’d love to hear from you.