Navigating the Emotional Journey of Infertility: Coping Strategies and Support
The emotional journey of infertility can be complex and challenging for individuals and couples struggling to conceive. Often involving a wide range of overlapping and sometimes conflicting emotions, facing fertility issues can make people feel like they’re all alone in their struggle.
However, every cloud has a silver lining. While infertility is undeniably one of the most difficult diagnoses to receive, you’re never truly alone. The Prelude Network® was created for patients, by patients – this personal connection to the struggle of infertility and the world of fertility care serves as our guiding light. We know what you’re going through because many of the people behind Prelude have been there themselves. In this blog post, we’ve provided an overview of some of the emotions that commonly come up when facing infertility, as well as some helpful coping and support strategies to help make your journey a little easier.
Emotions Linked with Infertility
The following emotions can occur before, during, and after an infertility diagnosis.
Shock and Disbelief: Even when a person suspects there may be some problems with infertility, getting a diagnosis often results in an initial feeling of shock and disbelief.
Anger and Resentment: As the reality of an infertility diagnosis sets in, anger and resentment are common emotions. The anger may be targeted toward oneself or others, such as family or friends who have had no problem getting pregnant.
Depression and Anxiety: Experiencing infertility, even before you are officially diagnosed, can be a real struggle as you deal with medical interventions, ongoing uncertainty, and getting your hopes up, only to become disappointed. Sometimes these experiences can lead to anxiety and/or depression.
Grief and Loss: Many people with infertility experience grief and loss because they are mourning the loss of their dream of being a parent. The grief is often as intense as the feelings experienced in any other type of significant loss.
Isolation and Shame: Surprisingly, people with infertility can experience a sense of isolation from experiencing themselves as being different from others who are successful in their family planning efforts. Shame can result from feeling one is unable to fulfill the expectations of becoming a parent.
Acceptance and Adaptability: After integrating positive coping strategies, many people find themselves able to reach a stage of acceptance, eventually adapting their family planning goals, expectations, and plans.
Hope and Optimism: Despite the many challenges of dealing with infertility, people often find hope in exploring the many fertility treatment options available. Adopting some positive coping tools and finding support can also make a huge difference.
Coping with Infertility
Coping with infertility and its accompanying emotions can be challenging, but learning about your options and integrating coping strategies can help. Each person’s experience is unique, so you can adopt the tips and suggestions that work best for you.
Seek Support: Many people find it helpful to reach out to friends and family members to discuss their feelings and struggles with infertility. Others seek out support from support groups; connecting with others who have experienced infertility can provide a sense of acceptance and shared empathy.
Communicate Openly: Infertility is known to strain relationships. If you have a partner, it’s crucial to maintain open, honest communication, which will help you process feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, or other emotions.
Practice Yoga, Mindfulness, or Meditation: Practicing mindfulness or meditation can help you manage emotions such as racing thoughts, anxiety, and stress.
Seek Help When Needed: When dealing with infertility causes your emotions to become unmanageable, it may be time to seek mental health treatment. A therapist can offer a safe space to process your emotions and develop healthy coping strategies.
Take Up Journaling: Journaling helps many people get a sense of clarity about life events they are going through. Writing in a journal can help you process your emotions and reflect on your infertility journey.
Practice Self-care: Avoid self-blame, remember that infertility is not your fault. Replace negative thoughts with those that are positive and empowering. Employing mindfulness and other empowering techniques can help you transform your thinking patterns. And remember, you are not defined solely by your fertility.
As part of our commitment to helping people navigate through infertility and fertility care, no matter where they are in their journey, The Prelude Network offers educational and support resources, including monthly on-demand webcasts. Hosted by Prelude’s Chief Compassion Officer, Dr. Alice Dormer, these sessions offer indispensable tools and information to manage stress and nurture emotional well-being. To sign up for upcoming sessions, click here.
Here are some recordings from past sessions:
- Stress and Fertility
- Coping with Pregnancy Loss
- Lifestyle and Fertility
- Telling your child they are donor conceived
- Impact of Infertility on Romantic Relationships
- Coping through the Holidays
The Next Steps
Many individuals and couples have discovered how to use coping strategies and ask for support to advocate for themselves and navigate the complexities of dealing with infertility. The clinics within The Prelude’s Network are committed to providing compassionate fertility care while supporting your emotional needs during every step of the family planning journey. Contact The Prelude Network® to learn about the next steps in your fertility journey.