Trying to conceive over a long period of time can create one of the most upsetting life crises for couples. To have your own family is a universal dream, and the thought of not being able to have one can make you and your partner feel that something is wrong. Most couples assume that they are fertile and expect to conceive soon after they stop using birth control or having unprotected sex. Struggles with conception can cause deep feelings of loss. Dealing with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional disruption for many couples. So, if you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, or isolated, you are not alone. It is normal to experience a wide variety of emotions in the process of pursuing infertility treatment. However, if your experience includes any of the following symptoms over a prolonged period of time, you could benefit greatly from spending time with a mental health professionalor a fertility counsellor.
The symptoms may include:
• Constant depression.
• Lack of focus and inability to complete tasks.
• Continual thoughts on your infertility.
• Strained interpersonal relationships (with partner, family, friends, or colleagues)
• High levels of perturbation and worry.
• Insomnia or change in sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, early morning awakening, sleeping more than usual).
• Easily irritated.
• Loss or increased appetite.
• Excessive weight gain.
• Increased use of drugs or alcohol..
• Persistent feelings of pessimism, guilt, or worthlessness.
• Persistent feelings of bitterness or anger.
• Loss of interest in normal activities.
• Social isolation
• Having suicidal thoughts
What to do
Infertility is always a challenging journey for most couples, some can cope all right on their own while others can’t. However, if you realize that infertility is taking over your life, you might consider counselling. There are certain points during infertility treatment when discussion with a mental health professional or fertility counsellor can help clarify thoughts and help with decision making. Managing stress may seem like a huge obstacle when you are trying to conceive without success. The sad cruel fact is that stress management is crucial to help your body conceive. You don’t need to put your life on hold while facing fertility struggles. Though the desire to start or expand your family may be in the forefront of your mind, building yourself up can help you cope with your emotions.
Consultation with a mental health professional or a fertility counsellor may be helpful to you and your partner if you are:
• At a treatment crossroad, having difficulty communicating or if you are in conflict with others about what direction to take.
• Trying to decide between alternative treatment possibilities.
• Exploring other family-building options.
• Considering third party assistance (gamete donation i.e. use of donor egg or sperm, surrogacy etc).
STEPS IN MANAGING EMOTIONS IN INFERTILITY.
1. DISCUSS YOUR FEELINGS ARIGHT.
When you are experiencing infertility, communicating with family and friends can be difficult and challenging but the key to knowing what step to take is to have a healthy, open, and honest conversation when ready. Often, we neglect communicating ourpositive feelings to our partner, and all he or she may get are negative expressions. Infertility may consume your life and engulf all your conversations and so it may be necessary to put limits on the time you talk about infertility to designated periods so that it does not overtake all your thought. You might try “The TimedRule,” which forces you to limit the amount of time you talk about infertility in a given discussion.
2. AVOID BLAMEGAME.
Allowing you experience grief is an important part of coping with infertility. Even while pursuing fertility treatments, facing the reality that becoming pregnant may not be possible can have a heavy emotional impact. Sometimes the cause of infertility can’t be determined but finding out infertility issues stem from you can lead to decreased self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. If your partner is the one who is infertile, you may feel frustrated and may struggle to keep from accusing that it’s their fault, not yours. It’s important to experience your feelings as they come, but it is advisable also to avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Blame, self-directed or otherwise, can trap you in a painful cycle that leads to more distress. It is recommended that you talk to your partner about how you feel, openly and honestly but this might be difficult when youare overwhelmed. Even if you’re angry, hurt, or ashamed, it’s usually better to talk about your emotions calmly, rather than waiting until they burst out during an argument or stressful moment. You may decide not to share your struggles with family and friends, but commit to being honest with each other.
3. STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE SITUATION.
Find out as much as you can about your fertility issue. Speak toyour doctor and ask questions. Also, talk to other people in your situation. Staying educated is especially important when you’re dealing with a fertility challenge because the technologies behind the treatments are complicated and may change quickly. This will enable you make informed choices……To be continued next week