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The Stress of Trying to Get Pregnant Too Much? 10 Tips to Reduce Your Anxiety

Aug 25, 2008
You and your partner have decided that you are ready to add a little peanut to your family. You've been trying to get pregnant for months and you're starting to get frustrated because each month your period starts...again. As far as you know, you and your partner are healthy so there are no reasons why you shouldn't be able to make a baby together. Or maybe you know you'll have some challenges, due to irregular cycles, endometriosis, or male factor issues. Whatever the reason, you're not pregnant yet and you're sad.

When do you cross over into the world of infertility? Infertility is described as the inability to become pregnant after twelve months of unprotected intercourse. There are 7.3 million people struggling with infertility, approximately one in eight couples. You are not alone.

Whether you are in the infertile category yet or not, the emotional stress of not becoming pregnant is real. Infertility is a misunderstood condition because it is not life-threatening. Many people consider the desire to have a child a lifestyle choice. But what many people don't realize is that infertility is a disease of the reproductive system. And infertility can affect both men and women alike.

Many couples are embarrassed to admit they're struggling to become pregnant. So, couples attempt to manage their situation behind closed doors. How you manage your emotions during this time is very individual, but below are ten ideas to help you cope during your trying-to-conceive journey:

Utilize resources. Magazines, books, blogs, health-related websites, and other sources will provide helpful information. A few great resources about infertility-related topics are: The InterNational Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc. (INCIID), RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, American Fertility Association, and Fertility LifeLines. One of the methods I used to gain information was to visit the websites of Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs). Most REs provide information about what causes infertility and about possible treatment options.

Learn. Educate yourself on your medical condition(s). Research how to overcome these obstacles through diet, exercise, alternative treatments, or traditional procedures. When my husband and I learned of his male factor infertility, we researched his condition. This information helped us to be more prepared during doctor appointments with urologists, REs, and other specialists.

Ask questions. Advocate for yourself during your treatments. Ask your doctor why they are doing XYZ procedure or why you need a certain test. Also ask them what the predicted results are for your particular situation. Ask friends for referrals to doctors. Continually seek answers to your questions! When we were starting our search for doctors, I asked everyone I knew if they knew of someone who had been through in vitro fertilization (IVF). This one question eventually led us to the RE we used for our IVF.

Find a friend/confidant. You need to be able to talk with someone about what is happening in your life. Find someone you trust who won't judge you. Talk with this person often. You might even meet a friend online through a blog or infertility support community. Some of my best supporters during our infertility were my friends with children. You won't know who can support you during this tough time if you don't let people know you need help, love, and understanding.

Pamper yourself. During stressful times it is easy to forget to treat ourselves to a pedicure, manicure, massage, glass of wine, a good hike, or whatever you enjoy. Stress only makes matters worse. I didn't pamper myself enough. The cost of fertility treatments causes many to stop their "luxury" spending. Try to find the funds and make the time to continue pampering yourself because this is an easy way to de-stress during this very stressful time.

Don't forget to live your life. It is easy to become obsessed about our infertility or desire to become a parent. Remember and acknowledge that there are positive aspects of your life and try to live those to the fullest. I have to admit, I didn't do this well. It is easier said than done. However, remember that you married your spouse because you loved him/her and you can still do fun things together to take your mind off baby-making.

Recognize your feelings. Are you feeling angry, sad, depressed, or guilty? Admitting and/or accepting your mood swings will allow you to control how you interact with your spouse, friends, and family. Among other things, you could keep a journal or start a blog. Learn to recognize your moods so you can manage them. I learned this a little late in my journey. Had I been aware of my feelings, I would have been hurt less or hurt others less. Rebuilding your relationships is a lot more work than not damaging them in the first place.

Allow yourself to be sad, angry, or upset. Give your feelings the recognition they need and allow yourself to feel. Once you acknowledge these emotions you'll feel better. If your sadness or anger becomes all-consuming, you might want to seek professional help. Visiting a therapist can help a lot. I met with a counselor two to three times per month during our struggle with infertility and then a few times after the birth of my twins. My counselor saved my marriage!

Watch your body. Is your energy level low, do you have a lot of headaches, do you have trouble sleeping? When your body is reacting to your emotions, you need to take action to prevent long-term damage to your body. Sometimes infertility is an alarm that something else is wrong with your body. A friend of mine believes that her infertility was a warning sign that her overall body was not healthy, and she was soon thereafter diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

It's all about you ... AND your spouse and your friends and your family. Yes, the infertile diagnosis is yours, but your infertility impacts everyone who loves you. Your partner isn't sure what to make of your mood swings, your friends are worried and not sure how to support you, your parents want you to be a parent almost as much as you want to be one; so do your in-laws. Don't forget there are other people involved too. Acknowledge them and give them the right to grieve too.

The inability to become pregnant can be one of the most difficult times in your life. Utilize these ten tips or find stress-reduction techniques that work better for you. Know that you will have good days and bad days. Remember that infertility is a disease of the reproductive system and there is no reason to be embarrassed about your condition. Learn the facts, seek help when necessary, and treat yourself well.
About the Author
Kelly K. Damron is the author of Tiny Toes: A Couple's Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression. Damron is the mother of twin girls conceived via IVF and born 10 weeks premature. She is an advocate for the infertile and prematurity communities. To learn more about her book visit: Tiny Toes.
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