Coping with infertility

Being diagnosed with infertility is often unexpected and almost always quite stressful. Family-building plans are suddenly complicated by medical, emotional, social, and financial considerations. The emotional roller coaster that accompanies infertility diagnosis and treatment often includes grief, anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, jealousy, social withdrawal, and even hopelessness. Because infertility is often not talked about or can even be considered a taboo topic, those living with it tend to feel alone, misunderstood, or “not normal”. 

Luckily, medical care for infertility can offer hope to most patients. Treatment is continually evolving and advancements in care can provide options for even the most challenging medical cases. In addition to finding comfort in potential treatments, those coping with infertility might also engage in the following emotional coping strategies:

Seek support from others.

Your spouse or partner will be your closest ally in the fertility journey, but don’t hesitate to lean on family and friends. Loved ones, even those without their own infertility issues, want to be there to help you in any way they can. Gently guide them by telling them what you need and don’t need.  Sometimes finding others who do know what the infertility struggle is like can be vital. Books, infertility websites, and in-person groups can help you gain the information and support that you need.  Therapists who specialize in fertility counseling can also be an important component of your support network.

Engage in self-care.

Add or increase activities that strengthen you emotionally. These may include exercise, meditation, hobbies, spiritual or religious practices, getting a good night’s rest, eating healthfully, spending time with pets, listening to music, diving into a great book… and the list goes on and on. While you’re adding in more things that make you feel good, be sure to eliminate or decrease activities that bring you down, whenever possible. Decreasing stress is an important strategy to conserve energy for the real challenges that lie ahead.

Live one day at a time.

Don’t let the fertility journey consume you so much that you forget all the other important things in your life, including relationships, career, and personal values. Jumping too far ahead into an unknown future is not a wise use of energy: use your emotional resources on the here-and-now. Let yourself feel joy in the moment, even if tomorrow is uncertain. Be realistic but don’t expect the worst, either: even the smallest bit of hope can carry you through the toughest challenges.

Last reviewed: 
March 2018

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