Once you know your fertility options and have made a fertility treatment plan with your fertility doctor, the anticipation of starting treatment can be an exciting but also apprehensive and stressful time. Both you and your partner need to organise time off work for treatment and plan how you are going to pay for treatment, for example. It’s a good idea to find time to get both your partner and you fertility-fit, in both mind and body, to maximise your opportunity for successful fertility treatment.
Each stage of a fertility journey can bring extreme highs and low of emotions, and each person will cope with these emotions differently. Trying to keep yourself level-headed to manage these constant flows of emotions is difficult. You need to find coping strategies to manage stress and help you and your partner stay calm and positive on your fertility journey.
1. Be realistic
Learn to accept what you can and cannot be in control of. Ask for help from the fertility specialists; the doctors and nurses will guide you through the process every step of the way and give you advice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, however minor or insufficient you may think they are – it really does take the pressure off, reduces fear of the unknown and eliminates unnecessary worrying. Try to make notes of your questions before your appointments, and ask for helpline telephone numbers for out of hours when the clinic is closed, to get reassurance so that anxiety does not build up. Treatment plans can be over months, and there will be ups and downs as you go through your treatment regime.
2. Recognise the hormonal changes
Be in tune with your emotions. Having hormonal treatment and fertility drugs can produce side effects and change your mood dramatically throughout a day and over periods of time during fertility treatment. Recognise that it’s the medication and try to accept your emotions, however overwhelming they may be. It’s ok to express your emotions, to cry or scream – you just need to let go of these emotional blockages. It’s important your partner and family realise that it’s your hormonal treatment, and give you space to express your feelings; ask them to avoid any unnecessary rows or upset if your response is not as expected. Your emotions will settle and pass as you go through fertility treatment. If you have been through the process before, or had many cycles of IVF, etc, you get to remember how you felt last time and as you approach each stage again, you know that you’re not going to feel like this forever.
It’s important for both you and your partner to be deeply connected; you are in this together, even if only one of you needs fertility treatment. Try to prioritise your relationship over the pressures and expectations. It is important to acknowledge the stress and how you and your partner are feeling emotionally. Don’t try to lay blame or guilt on each other, keep working together to overcome and manage the things that you can both control. Make time to carry on with normal life as best you can, as infertility can be all consuming and isolate you from family members and friends, especially if they are pregnant or experiencing the joy of having a family.
4. Stay positive
I know it’s hard when you are feeling frustrated and angry if treatment is not going well or you feel you are not getting support, but try to stay positive by using positive affirmations or mantra. Be open and talk to those people close to you. Try mind-body approach therapy, such as yoga or mindfulness, to help process your emotions. There is a wealth of literature to learn from about the emotions you are experiencing, infertility support networks for advice from other people in similar situations as you, and professional trained fertility experts. If you are feeling low and vulnerable, it’s ok to ask for help and support. Whilst going through fertility treatment is very personal to you, you are not alone on your journey.
If you are currently trying to conceive and are looking for ways to relax or promote fertility, why not order a copy of my Fertility Yoga DVD.