If you’re struggling with the issue of infertility, you know how emotionally exhausting it can be. Pressures can come from within and without, often from people who love you the most and who mean well. It’s critical for you to guard your mental health in order to guard your physical health and increase the possibility of healing infertility.
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The medical interventions available to help couples overcome fertility issues run a broad range of levels, from following simple medical recommendations to pharmaceuticals and surgery. Some protocols can feel invasive and demeaning, or may eliminate the spontaneity and joy that should accompany love-making.
Having to be constantly vigilant and aware of your body in order to follow medical advice can create a sense of stress, always being in the “fight or flight” mode. If you’re taking medications, some of them also affect mood. Being aware of these side effects may help you remain calmer. When you can say to yourself, “These feelings are just caused by the medication” or “These feelings are just caused by the heightened awareness I’m in right now” you may be able to step outside of your feelings and realize they are not really “you.”
Other exterior pressures can come from friends and family, who often are trying to be helpful, but other times may be downright rude. Asking “Are you pregnant yet?” is insensitive. In these situations, if you can do so calmly, try to let the person know how you feel. If the person is a friend, he or she will understand and be more sensitive in the future. If not, it might be best to try to avoid that person. You need to surround yourself with supporters, not detractors.
Other times loved ones may offer a suggestion they read about that helps infertility. This is intended as a kindness. I have had clients who really appreciate these suggestions, but others who feel additional pressure from them. Whichever your response, I encourage you to keep in mind the person’s good intentions and try to discuss as needed so the suggestions are truly helpful, not adding to your anxiety.
No matter who we are, we need to be aware of our own self-talk and adjust it to be self-supportive, not self-defeating. This is especially true for those dealing with infertility. Feeling worthless or undeserving, blaming yourself for some past behavior that you perceive may have caused the fertility problems, and experiencing jealousy or sorrow upon seeing couples with children are all common reactions but they are also unhealthy. It’s critical that you learn ways to turn these thoughts around so they do not drag you down.
We can also sometimes transfer our own emotions to others. In doing so, you are amplifying your own negative feelings by applying them to someone else. For example, you may feel terrible about disappointing your spouse. While your spouse may indeed be disappointed, your own disappointment may be amplifying your perception. Your spouse loves you and therefore is probably more concerned about you than you realize.
If you are dealing with these kinds of emotionally exhausting and unhealthy thought patterns and are unable to find ways to control and redirect your thoughts, please reach out for help. It’s important to have a strong bond of communication with your spouse, but you may also want to find an infertility support group or a counselor who specializes in helping couples struggling with infertility. Reach out to me if you are in the NYC area to see how I can help you.