Infertility affects 1 in 8 US couples, according to the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. And the impact that infertility can have on our mental health is as intense and severe as that of any other loss. It’s a completely normal response to feel somewhat anxious about infertility, but it shouldn’t be ruling your life. So, how can you overcome infertility anxiety?
As a general rule, if anxiety treatments work on everyday anxiety, they will likely also help with infertility anxiety. This is because that anxiety stems from the same root experiences. No matter the source, anxiety responds to the tools on this list.
With the skills below, you can find some peace of mind in the midst of the often taxing journey of infertility and remain optimistic if you are still trying to conceive.
Ways to Cope with Infertility Anxiety
Self-care is a buzzword that gets thrown around constantly. I’m not suggesting that you get a lavender vanilla bath bomb and expect it to solve all your problems (though they ARE pretty nice!). True self-care is making sure your body and mind are in an optimal state to handle what life throws at you.
Get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, stay active, eat healthy, make sure you get time alone to process your feelings, and comfort your body, as infertility treatment can be very intense.
Lean On Your Support System
Infertility can feel incredibly isolating. It’s important to remember that you are not alone! If you find yourself struggling to think about anything else, schedule a lunch with your best friend, call a parent, and tell your partner.
If you aren’t getting the support you need there, your fertility clinic should be able to refer you to support groups. You’ll find that your infertility anxiety is much less daunting when you express it rather than allow it to rattle around your head indefinitely.
Give Yourself a Break
Going through fertility treatment is time and energy consuming. Pass off any responsibilities or obligations that you can to someone else when you need to. If you can reduce your stress at all, do so. It’ll make it easier for you to cope.
Live a Full Life
I know this point sounds a bit contradictory to the last, but stick with me. While it’s important to reduce obligations that cause stress, it’s also important to remember that you are a well-rounded person who is so much more than your ability to conceive.
Continue to pursue your hobbies or engage in activities that bring you joy. Whether it’s painting, board game nights, or playing fetch with your family dog, don’t be so caught up in your infertility that you forget all the other things and people in your life that you are grateful for.
Stay Mindful and Present
Make an effort to avoid ruminating on the what-ifs of your infertility. Trust that you, your partner, and your medical team are doing everything in your collective power to achieve your goal. Mindfulness practices that help you stay present can help break the anxiety thought cycle.
Don’t know where to start? Check out this article I wrote on the 3-3-3 Rule for Anxiety. Additionally, yoga and meditation can help you focus on your breath and be present in your physical body.
Challenge Your Catastrophic Thinking
If you’re overwhelmed with thoughts of worst case scenarios relating to your infertility, try not to accept them as fact. I know that is a big ask, especially when you’ve likely had some worst case scenarios come true along the way. Journaling can retrain your brain to see things more clearly.
Write down what happened, what is going through your mind, and what you’re currently feeling. Next, describe the best and worst possible outcomes. List any evidence you have to support those outcomes. What is more likely? Try to take your emotions out of this assessment. Last, write down how you can think about the situation differently.
Putting these coping skills into practice should ease the pressure of infertility anxiety. However, don’t be discouraged if you still find yourself overwhelmed and anxious at times. The path that you are on is a tough one, and it’s completely normal to struggle with it. Licensed therapists, like my team at Pittsford Therapy, can help guide you.
Infertility and anxiety can seem like unbeatable conditions, but the truth is that people overcome both obstacles every day. I have no doubt that you can too.