Fertility treatment can be a complex pathway with uncertain outcomes. For those that embark on this journey, it can lead to a range of emotions, often at times challenging.
For many people going through fertility treatment, it will be one of the most distressing and challenging periods in their lives. It is an experience that can profoundly affect an individual’s sense of self, and have a lasting impact on relationships with partners, friends and family. It can often feel like a very lonely time.
Recognising the need for emotional support
Mind (2019) explains that some signs of stress and distress can manifest as impatience, anxiety, fear, worry, loneliness, poor appetite, tearfulness and restlessness. Fertility nurses report that those undergoing fertility treatment often display many of these signs, and they can intensify at each stage of treatment.
These triggers can affect us in many ways:
- Too much sleep/or too little
- Loss of appetite/or overeating
- Lack of concentration
- Pulling away from family and friends
- Unable to focus on work
If you are experiencing any of these, you may need to access some emotional support.
Identifying your feelings
More often than not, the emotions associated with fertility struggles are not caused by one single thing.
Successfully managing your emotions requires you to try and identify and name the feelings you are be experiencing. These may include:
- Feelings of failur
- Feelings of loss
- Feelings of guilt
- Feelings of anger or jealousy
- Feelings of shame
- Loss of self-esteem
- Feelings of being judged
- Feelings of being out of control
It is essential to understand that any emotions you may experience during this time are valid. Trying to deny them can often cause the thoughts and feeling to intensify, so it is crucial, where possible, to process them.
Where to find support
Research has found that being open about fertility issues and seeking support can help both men and women cope with the emotional distress that fertility issues may be causing.
There are many ways to seek support; below are just a few:
A qualified Therapist In licensed fertility clinics, counselling must be offered and accessible to all women before, during, and after treatment with a BICA accredited fertility counsellor.
There are different types of counselling, but the main two are:
Implications counselling — this is a type of counselling for those going through assisted conception treatments including IUI, IVF, treatments involving the use of donor eggs, sperm or embryos. Implications counselling aims to enable you to reflect and understand the proposed course of treatment for yourselves, your family and any children born as a result of treatment.
Therapeutic counselling – is focused on helping individuals to understand their thoughts and feelings.
Friends and Family
Reach out to friends and family, but consider who you look towards for support. Some of the feelings that you may identify with may come from those closest to you, so choose people who are positive for you and who you feel safe around.
Support groups may be helpful, allowing you to voice feelings and thoughts. They can often allow understanding from others who have been there or are on a similar journey to you.
In addition to these, there are many things you can do to calm your mind and body. During fertility treatment, the body and the mind are very closely connected. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, listening to music, listening to guided imagery, yoga, Tai Chi, are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance.
A final word
Your fertility journey is personal to you. In an attempt to gain control, often people engross themselves in medical jargon while ignoring their emotional needs. A lack of attention to your emotional needs can lead to thoughts and feelings seeming to spiral out of control. Looking after your mental well-being can help prepare you for the personal journey ahead. A strong support network can lift us when we feel low and can provide the strength to help keep us moving forward in the direction of our dreams.
by Sara Duffy