People often focus on the physical aspects of infertility, like tests, treatments, and costs. However, there’s often another component to this common yet very personal issue — the toll it can take on your emotional and mental health.
Our team at The New York Fertility Center works with people struggling to become pregnant, so we’re intimately familiar with the intensely emotional challenges they face. Whether you’re an individual or a couple facing infertility, here’s how it can impact your mental health and ways you can cope.
The emotional side of infertility
Infertility goes beyond the clinical aspects of fertilizing an egg and successful implementation. Studies show that half of women undergoing fertility treatment experience significant anxiety and emotional distress. And they’re not alone — 15% of their male partners reported it as their most upsetting life experience.
In addition to feelings of anxiety and emotional distress, it’s also common for people to feel like a failure or have deep-seated feelings of grief and loss. On top of that, fertility treatments can cause financial strain, adding another level of stress to the situation.
And, as you might expect, these feelings only increase with each unsuccessful treatment.
Unfortunately, less than half of people going through an infertility journey seek mental health services. That’s despite the fact that 60% of individuals feeling that their infertility has affected their mental health and one in three experiencing added strain on their relationship.
Dr. Tony Tsai and our team at The New York Fertility Center want to change those numbers by helping people understand the emotional challenges that come with infertility and ensuring they have ways to cope.
Coping with infertility
The emotional aspect of infertility can come from the journey itself or because of certain fertility drugs. Regardless, we customize our treatments to your unique needs — and that involves explaining what you might expect emotionally along the way.
Understanding the emotional and mental challenges ahead can help you create a coping strategy before things become too overwhelming. We recommend putting three plans in place.
1. Identify and name what you’re feeling
It’s easier to overcome your emotions if you can name what you’re feeling and where it’s coming from. For example, common feelings associated with infertility include:
- Anger or jealousy
- Guilt, shame, or low self-esteem
- Fear of being rejected or abandoned
- Feeling judged, inadequate, or like a failure
Once you identify what you’re feeling, you can dig deeper into why and where it’s coming from. That clarification can help when communicating with your partner, a friend, a loved one, or a professional.
2. Build a support system
Everything is easier to bear when you have a little help, and that includes infertility. It’s wise to build a carefully selected support system to lean on when needed.
This may be your spouse or partner, a close friend or family member, or even a support group. No matter whom you choose for support, make sure you select people or groups that allow you to share your thoughts and feelings in a receptive, nonjudgemental environment.
And don’t be afraid to seek professional help, either on your own or as a couple. Mental health experts can offer personalized guidance, ensuring you get the support you need when it’s needed most.
3. Take a break
The drive to become a parent can become all-consuming, but it’s OK to take breaks along the way. These temporary pauses can relieve stress and offer space to learn more coping strategies. Plus, they can provide a reminder about who you are beyond your fertility.
Studies show that stress and emotional strain can increase rates of infertility. So it’s crucial to find ways to cope with the challenges that arise during the journey.
Are you going through fertility treatments? Contact The New York Fertility Center today to learn more about coping with the emotional side.