Going through infertility is a roller coaster of emotions. Emotions not only linked to not being able to grow your family when you want, and the way you had planned, but also linked to the stigma and social pressure of having children, the feelings of isolation, the financial pressure, the need to make decisions around your professional career, to coping with recurrent loss, and the emotional stress of making important decisions as a couple, who may at certain times, feel differently about motivation to treatment, length and type of treatment, have different coping strategies, or different opinions on what to do when treatment fails.
When listed this way, it is not unsurprising that people going through fertility challenges have reported that 90% felt depression, 42% felt suicidal, 50% reported it was the most upsetting experience of their lives and 4 in 10 experienced PTSD after miscarriage. And for all these reasons, emotional distress is the number one reason for patients to quit fertility treatment.
So, let’s look at the different ways of getting support and start thinking about your Fertility Support Plan!
When undergoing fertility treatment, not enough attention has historically been given to viewing people holistically, caring for the physical as well as their emotional wellbeing.
Counselling sessions are often an extra, and not viewed as an essential part of treatment. However, a counsellor can make a huge difference in your ability to cope with treatment.
Counsellors can help you with emotional distress, coping strategies and making difficult decisions. You can find a counsellor within the clinic or as independent professionals.
We also see an increase in the role of fertility coaches in the US, UK and Europe. A coach is someone who guides you in your journey, often they have been through it themselves and can relate to the challenges you are going through.
This support may be emotional, covering all the aspects discussed above, and/or physical, helping you with practical aspects of fertility treatment like medication, making changes to your diet, environment etc.
Apart from personal experience, coaches go through training to develop the set of skills and competencies that are required to provide the emotional and physical support.
It is likely that during your fertility journey you will need different types of support. The professional support described above is essential. However, getting support from people you value and trust is also important. You don’t need to share all the details of the journey if you don’t want to, but having someone you can talk to when things get challenging can be very helpful.
Infertility can be very isolating so speaking with others who are going through it can be uplifting. You can find others at patient groups, organised by fertility clinics or by Fertility Network UK. You can also find a large community online on Instagram, Facebook Groups and Online Forums. These are a safe space to vent about the two-week wait, a negative pregnancy test or the latest trend in fertility diet.
Peers going through similar challenges, understand where you are coming from and acknowledge your emotions. It can be liberating, and new friendships are formed out of the pain of infertility. Fertility podcasts are also a great companion. Whether you are on your wait to work or listening at home, you will be able to hear the voices of peers and professionals and feel less alone.
The emotional support can make or break the outcome of a fertility journey, of the vision you once had for your family. In fact, emotional distress is the number one reason for people to stop fertility treatment. So, take a few minutes to create your Fertility Support Plan, one that is your resource for all levels of support when you need it:
Most people underestimate the upheaval of a fertility journey, so whatever stage you’re in, make sure you are prepared. It’s never too late to start your Fertility Support Plan, why not start today?
About Andreia Trigo
Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme multi-awarded nurse consultant, coach, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her fourteen-year medical experience, CBT, NLP and her own eighteen-year infertility journey, she has developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. The Enhanced Fertility Programme is helping people worldwide and has been awarded Best Innovation in Business 2018 and E-Business of 2018.