One of the most frustrating parts of coping with infertility is dealing with the assumption of friends and family members that you are “just too stressed out about the baby thing,” or that your high stress lifestyle is somehow contributing to infertility. “Move out of the city,” they say. “Quit your job. Relax. Stay at home all day.” These rather ludicrous suggestions stem out of the archaic belief that stress somehow causes infertility. There is currently no medical research to suggest that stress alone can cause a couple to have low fertility or impaired fertility (which is defined as a couple that has not become pregnant after having unprotected sex for 12 months or more). Couples who employ simple infertility stress management tips may experience lowered stress and higher coping than other couples.
While the connection between stress and infertility is unproven from a medical perspective, the fact that stress and infertility are linked in common culture does show that friends and family notice you’re stressed about not having a baby yet. Many couples going through the struggles of infertility are very stressed. Infertility creates a sudden interruption in your well-laid life plans. You planned to have a baby, and baby is not coming. This is going to make most people stressed. If society has an overemphasis on the role of stress in causing infertility, society also under appreciates the amount of stress caused by infertility.
Infertility and Stress: Quick Tips
- Doctors around the world agree that while stress is not a leading factor in infertility, being infertile (or worrying about your childless state) can make you very stressed.
- Women experiencing infertility problems have the same level of depression and anxiety as do women who are undergoing treatment for cancer and heart disease.
- Women exhibit the highest symptoms of infertility stress statistically but men can also experience the same level of stress and interruption in daily activities and functioning.
- Families, friends, and healthcare providers can decrease or alleviate some of a couple’s symptoms of infertility stress by providing the support needed at this time.
Not having a baby and being unable to begin or expand your family when you choose to can make couples very stressed. They may fight more, argue over trivial things, or pull away from each other in their grief and disappointment. They may feel judged by family or friends. They may decide to split up. The stress that couples experience while dealing with infertility is real, and couples undergoing fertility treatments may benefit from additional support of stress management techniques, counseling, mind and body wellness training, and therapy groups to help them through this challenging and uncertain time in their lives.
While you are TTC (trying to conceive), many couples experience a specific type of stress called infertility stress. Statistically women exhibit the highest symptoms of stress during infertility but men also exhibit many of these same symptoms, and may have them to the same level.
FACT: According to research studies, women who are coping with infertility issues have equal levels of depression and anxiety as do women who are undergoing treatment for cancer, HIV-positive, and heart disease.
If you are trying to get pregnant and have been trying for over one year, you may begin to experience a disruption in almost all aspects of your life. Infertility can affect your work, your relationship with your partner, your enjoyment in common hobbies and activities, your propensity to develop depression or anxiety, your friendships, your relationships with extended family, your religious feelings, and many other aspects of your life. Simply going to a party or a park where families or couples who are expecting a baby are present can be stressful if you and your partner are experiencing infertility. Uncertainty or feelings of hopelessness about your fertility can have a big impact on your happiness during many stages of your life.
Infertility Stress Management Tips from Santa Monica Fertility Clinic
- Reach out to select friends and family for support
- Individual and couples therapy
- Online infertility support groups
- Mind and body wellness groups (specifically those teaching social support, cognitive restructuring, and self nurturing)
- Education about infertility (online research at reputable sites, visits to an in fertility doctor, classes etc.)
- Improving communication within your relationship with your partner
- Journaling or blogging
- Taking time to grieve (set aside a few minutes a day so infertility stress does not invade every waking minute of your life)
Some experts suggest that couples who successfully face a challenge like infertility together and work through it successfully may have a stronger relationship in the long-term. Achieving any goal together with your partner nourishes your relationship, whether it’s saving up for a down payment on a house, successfully conceiving a baby, or deciding to adopt. Working through infertility issues together, with love and support, can help shore up your relationship with your partner for the years ahead. It can help you build a more stress proof relationship, which will be needed just as much during your future child’s terrible two’s as it is during the years you are trying to conceive.