Looking After Your Mental Health During Fertility Treatment
Fertility treatment can take a mental toll on your wellbeing. Trying to balance relationships, work and every day realities is not simple and can be very overwhelming. At Complete Fertility we have put together some tips to help manage the stress of these situations.
Sharing Your Fertility Journey
It’s important to have a support network when going through treatment for those moments when you need a shoulder to lean on. Confiding in a close friend or family member can provide an outlet on the hard days and can make a world of difference.
How many people you share your journey with is entirely up to you. The one thing to be aware of is, the more people who know, the more people who will check in on you and that can sometimes become stressful when you don’t feel like talking. If you ever feel this way, it’s okay to say things like “thank you for your support on this, I’m just taking a mental break – if I feel like I need to talk about anything, I will come to you”
Managing Work During Fertility Treatment
Sharing your situation with work colleagues can be challenging. There will be times where you may need to leave the office for appointments or take medication, or just feel like you’re not quite as focused as you usually are. If so, you may want to tell your immediate manager in confidence.
If you don’t have that kind of relationship with your manger but have a colleague who is supportive, it may be helpful for them to be aware of what’s happening. Some women feel more comfortable keeping their treatment private but making excuses each time you need to leave the workplace can be hard, especially if you have experienced several cycles.
Managing The Strain Of Fertility Treatment On Your Relationship
Your relationship is one of the most significant parts of your journey. The experience is as much physical as it is emotional for those undergoing treatment and they need to be in tune with what is happening with their bodies. Pin addition, there is the added pressure of having to remember when to take injections and waiting for test results. This combination can make it difficult to switch off from the process.
A partner’s part in the process is often considered ‘easy’. However, not having more of a physical part to play can often heighten the pressure someone feels to support their partner going through treatment. No matter how uncomfortable it may be, when it comes to handling the day to day with your partner, communication really is key. Tell each other how you’re feeling, what might be weighing on your mind and what is helpful for you at that time. One option is to make a specific time during the day, perhaps 15 minutes before dinner, to talk about anything to do with the treatment.
Some coping strategies that can work really well for couples can be planning things to look forward to, like social events, small trips or starting a home project – any goals that are achievable and will keep the connection, romance and fun in your relationship.
Navigating Difficult Social Occasions During Fertility Treatment
Fertility treatment can often be a lengthy process and naturally, social events will pop up that may be more difficult to attend than they used to be. Family events such as Christmas or Easter can be particularly challenging, especially if family members are asking “when is the baby coming?” A good response to these questions is having a prepared line to say, such as “If there’s any news, I’ll let you know”.
One of the more difficult situations for women is baby showers. It may not be something you feel like attending when you are going through treatment, and it is okay to say no to these events. Instead, you can send a gift and say you have prior commitments.
Take Time Out For You
There are many people that go through treatment for an extended period of time. Often, when they look back, they remember focusing on little else and feel they missed out on memories, other experiences and life in general. Try and remember to focus on yourself. Self-care keeps you in the right frame of mind to tackle any obstacles that may be ahead of you.
On a fertility journey it’s important to do things that make you feel good about yourself, whether that’s exercise, being outside, pampering yourself, meditation or even just time to be by yourself with your thoughts.
Often, if you don’t have immediate success you will go through a grieving process. Couples will experience a lot of normal emotions; sadness, anger, frustration, confusion. The worst thing you can do is ignore these feelings; it’s important to sit with it and work through it because the feelings won’t go away by themselves.
How we can further support you
At Complete Fertility, we have a counselling service and support groups to help you through your journey. We’re here for our patients every step of the way, so if you need support please don't hesitate to reach out.
We recognise how daunting fertility treatment can be, with many patients reporting that they feel anxious and alone. We understand that throughout your treatment journey there may be things that you would like to talk about with other people also going through the fertility process.
To support you, we have set up a Fertility Buddy – Peer to Peer Support System. The Buddy peer to peer support is a way of connecting patients who are on a similar fertility journey. The aim is to offer the patients a safe place to offer mutual support, to share stories, emotions and worries with someone who understands what they are going through. To join the buddy system, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and preferred mode of contact.