If you’re struggling with infertility, you know the emotional roller coaster it takes you on. But fertility treatments may exacerbate mood swings and emotional stress, so be prepared to combat these symptoms in a healthy way.
How infertility treatments affect mood
A woman’s natural cycle is an ebb and flow of various hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone. Although these are our natural hormones, when they are imbalanced, we can feel emotionally unsettled, irritable, or sad. These problems are compounded when additional hormones of various kinds are given to a woman to help her body release eggs and conceive.
Common treatments such as Clomid and human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) trigger glands in the body to release hormones essential for healthy ovulation. Oral contraceptives, often used in IVF treatment, flood the woman’s body with higher levels of progesterone. Other medications actually suppress hormones that are overproducing in order to treat endometriosis.
If a natural imbalance in our hormones can cause us to feel emotionally off, then forced imbalances caused by artificially increasing or decreasing hormone production can have an even stronger impact. Many women undergoing fertility treatment respond with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or irritability, as well as insomnia and changes in libido.
In addition to the hormonal treatments, the process itself can cause additional stress and emotional pain. Often there is a strict schedule of appointments, treatments, and behaviors that must be followed for a regimen to have an optimal chance of success. This puts a great deal of stress on a couple, and can also cause the woman to feel like a science experiment!
What you can do to address mood issues
First, don’t blame yourself. Recognize that your emotional responses are natural and, to a large extent, caused by the treatments themselves. Talk to your infertility doctors and be sure they know the emotional symptoms you are experiencing. If they disregard your concerns, find different doctors. Infertility is stressful enough. You need doctors who care about you as a whole person.
Next, find emotional support. Your spouse or partner should be your first and most important support. He needs to know and help you through this time. Then build a circle of sympathetic friends and family, and finally, if necessary, find a counselor expert in helping couples through infertility.
And as always, take good care of yourself. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly. Exercise can be an effective anti-depressants for lifting a mood.
You need not be alone as you go through this process. Find the help and support you need and keep yourself healthy, and you’ll get through the treatments with more of an ability to manage your emotions.