Coping and supportBy Mayo Clinic staff
Coping with infertility can be difficult. It's an issue of the unknown — you can't predict how long it will last or what the outcome will be. Infertility isn't necessarily solved with hard work. The emotional burden on a couple is considerable.
Taking these steps can help with coping:
- Set limits. Decide in advance how many and what kind of procedures are emotionally and financially acceptable for you and your partner and attempt to determine a final limit. Fertility treatments may be expensive and often are not covered by insurance companies, and a successful pregnancy often depends on repeated attempts.
- Consider other options. Determine alternatives — adoption, donor sperm or egg, surrogacy, or even having no children — as early as possible in the infertility evaluation. This may reduce anxiety during treatments and feelings of hopelessness if conception doesn't occur.
- Talk about your feelings. Locate support groups or counseling services for help before and after treatment to help endure the process and ease the grief should treatment fail.
Managing emotional stress during treatment
- Acupuncture. This ancient therapy has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase optimism during IVF. While this may not have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant, it can make the process more tolerable.
- Practice relaxation. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which uses methods that include relaxation training and stress management, has been associated with higher pregnancy rates.
- Express yourself. Reach out to others rather than repressing guilt or anger.
- Stay in touch with loved ones. Talking to your partner, family and friends can be very beneficial. The best support often comes from loved ones and those closest to you.
Managing emotional effects of the outcome
Whatever the result of your fertility treatment, you'll face the possibility of psychological challenges. Seek professional help if the emotional impact of any of these outcomes becomes too heavy for you or your partner:
- Failure. The emotional stress of failure can be devastating even on the most loving and affectionate relationships and for people who've prepared well for the possibility of failure. Common emotional responses include anger, guilt, shock, self-esteem problems, sexual problems and marital problems.
- Success. Even if fertility treatment is successful, it's common to experience stress and fear of failure during pregnancy. If you have a history of depression or anxiety disorder, you're at increased risk of these problems recurring in the months after your child's birth.
- Multiple births. A successful pregnancy that results in multiple births introduces new medical complexities and the likelihood of significant emotional stress both during pregnancy and after delivery.
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