The journey to parenthood is probably the most venturesome of journeys to take during your adult life. Yet for 1 in 7 heterosexual couples in the UK, the journey to fertility is a rocky road. Fertility struggles can lead you to an emotional rollercoaster filled with anger, depression, anxiety, shock, grief, and frustration amongst many difficult emotions.
Whilst there has been a lot of conversation around the physical and economic aspects of fertility treatment, many people remain silent about the influence fertility struggles can have on our mental health. We’re here to open up the conversation around the psychological influences of fertility issues.
You could have been trying to conceive for some time, before you consider visiting your fertility specialist. The process of accepting that your hopes for a future as a parent are further out of reach than expected and that you need help can be incredibly distressing.
Letting someone into intimate details of your life can lead to understandable feelings of anxiety. The wait time between consultations and test results could also lead to anxious feelings and thoughts.
Each person experiences anxiety in different ways and has different triggers, so it is helpful to identify where yours may come from. Stress management classes & meditation, can be some useful techniques to help keep anxiety in check. If you do feel like it is getting out of control or if you do have existing issues with anxiety, it would be best to visit a therapist.
It’s not uncommon to feel a profound sense of guilt as you deal with fertility issues. You may over scrutinize your lifestyle while trying to find an answer, which can amount to heightened feelings of guilt and stress.
Consultations can be tough and a diagnosis can result in the feelings of failure as both a partner and a parent. Guilt can be a powerful and damaging force on your mental state. You must understand that infertility is not your fault and although feeling guilty may be natural, it is something you must discuss with your partner or therapist.
Your infertility journey may seem like a lonely road, where each step appears to distance you further from loved ones. It’s common for couples to want to socially isolate themselves from triggering situations where they could find themself surrounded by “happy families”.
But social isolation can be particularly difficult in today’s social media age, as simply scrolling through your feed can turn into a minefield of baby envy.
Conversations riddled with intrusive questions about your journey or uncalled for advice can be difficult to navigate. You may even find yourself wanting to isolate from your partner, because you feel like they aren’t as involved or you’ll are on different pages
Although this is understandable and these feelings are normal, it can also exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety.
Low self-esteem and fertility issues seem to go hand in hand. Those who have encountered fertility setbacks describe feelings of inadequacy, of being “not good enough”. Comparing your journey to someone else may also influence your self-esteem, always remember that we are all different, although their issues may be similar to yours, the way each individual responds to treatment will be different.
The cocktail of emotion that comes as part of the fertility issues package can leave nerves frayed and relationships fragile. Feelings of guilt can lead to a communication breakdown for couples or loved ones. Always remember to have a safe space for open conversation about your feelings. Try and make sure you are all on the same page regarding treatment.
Apart from being an emotional journey, it can also significantly impact your finances, it is very important to regularly take check of your finances and treatment budget, it is very easy to get swayed by emotions, which is why having a budget set up before treatment is crucial.
The despair of not knowing why you’re struggling to conceive, or the wonder of whether you ever will, can lead to a state of depression. Depression can be triggered by the emotional challenges and physical side effects from fertility treatment such as hormonal therapy, treatment failure, pregnancy loss, financial or relationship stress.
You can try journaling to keep track of your emotions, remember to look out for signs like emotional outbursts & loss of appetite.
One positive to take is that the stigma of mental health around fertility issues is finally being addressed, with multiple campaigns and social media platforms to voice your struggles and journey. Some clinics now routinely offer sessions with fertility counsellors who can help you focus on the medical and emotional aspects of your journey.
Always remember, you are not alone, the #TTC community is one of the most beautiful and supportive networks, representing every 1 in 7 couples who is a #fertilitywarrior. Although it is a club you may have joined without choice, we hope you will leave with an encouraging and reassuring tribe.
If you are struggling to conceive and would like to know more about how your fertility impacts your mental health, or have any questions about your fertility in general, we are here to help.
If you’re ready to start tracking your fertility, or have any questions about your overall female health, we’d love to help you out. Why not join our waitlist and we’ll let you know when we’re live so we can help guide you along the fertility path.