Infertility is a physically and emotionally draining struggle for many couples. However, even though you may feel exasperated by the delay in starting your family, practicing mindfulness and focusing on positivity in the face of fertility challenges can provide three major benefits:
Improvement of your own health and well-being –
Infertility takes a toll, especially if it’s been a lifelong struggle. While many studies differ in their findings regarding the exact percentage of infertile couples reporting mental health problems, it is generally accepted that infertility can worsen stress, anxiety and depression as well as cause anger, sadness and social isolation.
A strengthened relationship with any partner you may have –
Infertility can put a damper on romance when partners adhere to a strict intimacy schedule to increase their chances of getting pregnant. This routineness and lack of spontaneity may lead to a decrease in desire for your partner or sexual problems like erectile dysfunction. Additionally, one partner may blame the other for infertility or the relationship may suffer from increased stress levels. Remaining positive may alleviate some of these relationship issues.
Maximization of the chance of getting pregnant –
Reducing stress, anxiety and depression won’t necessarily make you pregnant, nor is there a clear-cut cause and effect between poor mental health and infertility. Fertility problems are much more likely caused by a complex mixture of biological, genetic, environmental and mental factors. However, poor mental health may negatively affect fertility in ways we don’t yet understand, and there is no harm in thinking positively.
How Can I Stay Positive at a Time Like This?
Changing your mindset to a positive one is easier said than done. If you’re having trouble being positive, the following tips may help.
#1 Refuse to Be Your Own Worst Enemy
Many times, infertile couples will be overly pessimistic about their situation to avoid getting their hopes up each time they get one step closer to pregnancy. This may be especially true for couples who have been through one or more miscarriages.
While it may seem prudent to remind yourself of success rates and the possibility that you won’t get pregnant, this may be doing more harm than good. After all, in 2015 “the chance of having a live birth per ART cycle” ranged from 5.8 to 46 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depending on factors like age, source of the egg and whether the embryo was fresh or frozen.Those aren’t insignificant numbers! Allowing yourself to envision the possibility of a family can be a positive experience if you don’t shame yourself for your optimism.
#2 Be Kind to Yourself
One of the biggest mistakes people make when struggling with fertility is succumbing to negative self-talk. You may recognize some of your own thoughts in the following phrases:
It’s my fault I can’t conceive.
If I wasn’t so irresponsible with my health, I could get pregnant.
I am letting my partner down.
My body is a bad body.
I am a failure as a man/woman.
Maybe I’m just not meant to have kids.
I will never have a child.
If a friend or even a stranger shared these feelings with you, would you blame them for infertility or console them? Almost certainly the latter. Now consider this: what’s the difference between that friend or stranger and yourself?
Nothing at all!
Next time you talk negatively to yourself, imagine you are saying the same thing to a friend, stranger or even yourself as a young child. It will be much harder to insult yourself and you might start thinking more positively as a result.
#3 Block Out Negativity
At times, negative thoughts about infertility will surface suddenly. The key to positivity is stopping your negative thoughts before they affect your emotions.
Redirect your attention from these thoughts by introducing a distraction. This could be a physical reminder, like gently snapping a hairband on your wrist, or a mental process, like grounding yourself by focusing your full attention on your five senses. Other tactics include letting your thoughts “float by” without dwelling on them or diving into another activity, such as a chore you’ve been putting off.
That being said, it’s unnecessary (and often unhealthy) to repress your feelings in the long-term. Try setting these feelings aside for a private moment of reflection, perhaps when you’re taking a shower or bath, or a conversation with your partner. This way, you are still processing your emotions without letting them control your life.
#4 Cope with Current Emotions
Maybe you cannot help but feel sad, angry or resentful. That’s okay – people have natural variations in their mental states, and for some, their brain chemistry can make it more challenging to be positive during the hard times. If you find yourself struggling with your emotions, these solutions may help:
Exercise – Even a small amount of regular exercise, like walking, can improve your mood.
Practicing mindfulness – Meditation and stress-reducing exercises like yoga and tai chi can help you let go of tension.
Journaling – Writing down your feelings is an effective way to get worrying thoughts out of your head and onto paper. This exercise may make it easier to process and come to terms with confusing emotions.
Psychotherapy – A mental health professional can help guide you through any negative emotions or mental health issues you may have and give you the tools to manage your mental health.
Group therapy – Knowing others are going through the same struggle can help you feel less isolated and build your sense of community.
Receive Quality Fertility Treatment with the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine
At the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM), we understand how difficult each person’s fertility journey can be. Our physicians have helped patients in the U.S. and Canada for more than 30 years, so we’re used to working with people who have a wide variety of needs. We even offer individual/couples counseling, free infertility support groups, yoga for fertility and acupuncture to patients who want to approach fertility from the mind-body perspective.
CCRM is one of the industry's leading pioneers in fertility science, research and advancement, offering access to a national network of award-winning physicians, a full suite of fertility services, innovative technology and cutting-edge labs.