Going through infertility and the absolute rollercoaster that it is can really do a number on your mental health! I can still say with one hundred percent conviction that our struggle with infertility is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. I know I’ve said it before, but the rate of PTSD related to infertility is equivalent to that related to cancer or HIV. That is HUGE! Why it is not recognized by more people (I’m talking to you insurance companies!) baffles me!
People like to tell you to “just relax and it’ll happen”. If it was that easy there wouldn’t be a huge and ever growing industry centered around fertility.
How Infertility Effects Your Mental Health
If you are currently in the battle or have been through it, you know. But for those of you who may not have first hand experience, infertility is made up of so many unknowns. When will we have a baby? Will we have a baby? Why can’t I get pregnant? Will this treatment work? Why is everyone else getting pregnant and I’m not? The list goes on and on.
I think one of the hardest parts for me was I’ve always believed that if I set my mind to something and work hard I can make it happen. But that wasn’t the case with trying to get pregnant. I think a lot of other women and couples going through this feel the same way.
Another difficult part was that each month I wasn’t pregnant it was like starting back from the beginning. It wasn’t like we were getting closer. And I know in some regards that isn’t true when you’re working through your diagnosis and plan. But at the most basic level it is true.
Infertility for a lot of people is something that lasts for years. Month after month something that you want SO BAD seems just out of reach. You’re pumping your body full of hormones trying to increase your odds. Going through tests and surgical procedures, and really putting your body through the ringer. It’s exhausting, and before you know it, it consumes your life.
A Few Ideas
Don’t come for me, but there is something to be said about trying to relax during this whole thing. I am not saying “just relax and it’ll happen”. I know how ridiculous, unhelpful, and insensitive it is. Not to mention the HIGH risk of getting throat-punched that goes along with saying it (a little PSA). However, stress causes your cortisol levels to go up, and that makes it a less than ideal environment for getting pregnant.
So, what are some more realistic ways to prioritize your mental health?
Talk to someone
When we first started our fertility journey I was SUPER private about it. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I really isolated myself. I went into survival mode, and sort of shut down. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS! I did talk to a therapist several times after my miscarriages, and she gave me some tools to help when I was really struggling. Talk to a friend, someone who has been through what you’re going through, or a professional. But please talk to someone.
*You can always message me if you need someone who’s been where you are*
Advocate For Yourself
With your doctors, with your family, with your friends. I know that more often than not, when someone asks how you are doing the response is “I’m okay”. When in all reality that couldn’t be further from the truth. Be honest, let them know what you need. Even if it’s just space. Or with your doctors, if you think you need more testing or want to try a different treatment or whatever it is, ask. You don’t want to wonder “what if”.
Another way to advocate for yourself is saying no to things. Baby showers and gender reveals can be so difficult. If you think going is going to have a negative effect on your mental health, skip it! Your friend will understand.
We did this a lot in between cycles. I needs a month here or there that I wasn’t driving back and forth to the clinic, or taking meds, or dealing with the dreaded two week wait. I need them both mentally and physically. I highly recommend it.
If possible go somewhere for the weekend, or even just overnight. A change of scenery can really help take your mind off everything.
Another way to “get away” without actually going anywhere. I was never a believer in meditation prior to infertility, but when I started meditating regularly it really helped. It would help me sleep, or if I felt like I was starting to spiral, it would help me cut it off. The Fertility From The Soul YouTube channel has a lot of great options.
This is another thing I never did prior to infertility, and I was shocked at how much it helped! To be able to get your thoughts and emotions out is so helpful, and sometimes it’s easier to write than to verbalize them. This journal is specific to IVF, and has prompts if you need. I tend to prefer a plain ol’ journal like this one. The best one is one you’ll use.
I always go back to exercise. It has so many benefits and I know I always feel better when I am consistently active. Even a short walk can be beneficial!
Don’t Forget to Prioritize Yourself
When you’re in the middle of treatments it’s go-go-go. What’s the plan, what’s our next step, where do we go from here? It becomes this chaos of medications, shots, tests, and procedures. I know I focused way more on the physical side of it all, because it was easier to check the boxes.
Take time to care for your mental health along the way. It gets lost easily, but it is so important.
You are not in this alone! Even on the days when it doesn’t feel like you’ve got this, we’ve this. I am always here to talk, you can DM me on insta or email me.