If you’ve ever struggled with infertility, I’m sure you’ve heard, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant!” or “You’re too stressed!”
While stress can certainly exacerbate the situation when suffering from infertility, there is no known research to say that stress can cause infertility.
We know this because women become pregnant even in the most stressful and emotional states, such as war, famine, rape, and even drug addiction. So to say to someone that stress is what’s impacting their infertility is usually not very helpful and can be met with frustration and anger.
What stress does do during these difficult times, is making the process of trying to conceive that much harder. It can influence a person’s behavior and emotional state. An individual or couple might engage in behaviors that might not be the healthiest way to cope with the stress, like drinking, smoking, negative self-talk, self-medicating, etc.
Tips for Reducing Stress During Infertility:
- Acknowledge your feelings: Know that you are not alone and that your feelings during this time are completely valid.
- Share your questions and fears: It is important to have people in your life during this time who are caring and empathetic to what you are going through. Whether it is your friends, family, spouse, or even a counselor, having someone who understands your fears and anger can be really helpful.
- Allow yourself to cry and be angry: Trying to act or think or feel a certain way, can be exhausting. It can lead to resentment and suppression of healthy emotions that are beneficial in coping.
- Allow yourself to grieve: Unresolved grief can eat away at someone’s emotional and physical well-being. You are allowed to grieve during the process of trying to conceive. And you are allowed to grieve for the child you have yet to conceive.
- Keep a journal: writing things down can be helpful during this time. It can help you understand why you’re feeling the way you are, and maybe reveal something you might be burying that needs to be addressed to move forward.
- Stay connected with family and friends: isolating yourself during this time can be appealing, but try to stay connected to your social circle for support. It is okay to remind them that you’d rather not talk about baby stuff right now, or you might even feel comfortable confiding in them about what you’re going through.
- Communicate with your partner: infertility can be really trying on a relationship. Each person is going through something individually, and you are both going through something together. Keeping the communication open and supportive can be key during this emotional time.
- Get informed: this is a time of uncertainty. And that in itself can cause a lot of anxiety, depression, worry, and stress. Getting as much information as possible about what is happening, and what to expect in the future can help with the uncertainty. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions, or to seek out a professional infertility therapist during this time to help guide you through.
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If you’ve ever struggled with infertility, I’m sure you’ve heard, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant!” or “You’re too stressed!” While stress can certainly exacerbate the situation when suffering from infertility, there is no known research to say that stress can cause infertility.
Dr. Melissa Estavillo is a Licensed Psychologist and founder of Biltmore Psychology and Counseling. With over 7 years of experience, she specializes in both individual and couples therapy in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ. She integrates complementary methodologies and techniques stemming from Emotionally Focused Theory, Psychodynamic Theory and Other Evidence Based Practices to offer a highly personalized approach tailored to each client.