If you or someone you love is struggling with infertility, you’re not alone. Infertility can be an emotionally and physically devastating experience, but there are ways to cope and even overcome infertility. In this blog post, we’ll explore the various options available to those dealing with infertility so that you can find the best path forward for yourself or your loved one.
Understand the Causes of Infertility
Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after 12 months of unprotected sex. It can be caused by a variety of different factors, including age, lifestyle, and medical conditions. For women, the most common cause of infertility is ovulation disorders that prevent the release of eggs from the ovaries. Other causes can include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and blocked fallopian tubes. For men, infertility can be caused by a low sperm count, sperm motility issues, or varicocele.
It’s important to understand the causes of infertility in order to better understand your own fertility and how to approach treatment. A visit to your doctor can help shed light on any medical problems that may be preventing you from conceiving. Additionally, talking to a fertility specialist can help you understand your own fertility and any potential treatment options.
Learn the Different Types of Infertility
Infertility can be caused by many different factors, and each type of infertility requires its own treatment approach. It’s important to understand the different types of infertility so that you can make informed decisions about your fertility journey.
The most common types of infertility are:
• Male infertility – This is when a man has a low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm shape or size.
• Female infertility – This is when a woman has hormonal imbalances, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis.
• Unexplained infertility – This is when tests don’t find any underlying cause.
• Secondary infertility – This is when a couple has difficulty conceiving a second child after previously having a successful pregnancy.
• Tubal infertility – This is when a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, preventing conception.
• Ovulatory infertility – This is when a woman doesn’t ovulate regularly, leading to difficulty conceiving.
• Age-related infertility – This is when a woman’s age affects her ability to conceive.
• Endometriosis – This is when cells from the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus, resulting in pain, irregular bleeding, and difficulty conceiving.
It’s important to talk to your doctor about your health and fertility history to determine which
Be Mindful of Your Stress Levels
The emotional and psychological stress of infertility can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember to take care of yourself and be mindful of your stress levels. Meditation and yoga can help you relax and manage the stress of infertility. Research shows that meditation and mindfulness can have a positive effect on stress levels, including calmer breathing and reduced oxygen consumption, lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, improved immunity, energy, and mental clarity. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be an effective therapy for individuals dealing with anxiety related to infertility. A mindfulness intervention has been shown to improve mental health and relationships for women dealing with infertility. All these mechanisms can help to increase self-efficacy in women coping with infertility.
Seek Professional Support and Treatment
When dealing with infertility, it is important to seek out professional support and treatment. Seeing a fertility specialist can help you understand the causes of your infertility and determine the best treatment options for you. They can also provide emotional support, answer your questions and help you make informed decisions about your treatment. Some fertility specialists specialize in specific types of infertility and can provide more specialized advice and care.
In addition to seeing a fertility specialist, it may be beneficial to seek out a mental health professional (MHP) or infertility counselor. MHPs and other qualified infertility counselors should provide support counseling (e.g. grief work after a miscarriage) and provide guidance in managing the emotional and psychological aspects of infertility. It is completely normal for couples and individuals to need psychological support after a diagnosis of infertility, and professional counseling is a great way to find relief from emotional pain.
Consider Alternative Treatments
When it comes to infertility treatments, many couples want to explore alternative options before taking more drastic measures such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF). While there are still very few studies that have been done on alternative treatments, some couples have found success with acupuncture or herbal medicine. Acupuncture is done by placing tiny needles at specific points on the body, and it is thought to increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Herbal medicine is another option that some couples have tried in order to get pregnant. Herbal remedies such as chasteberry and red clover have been used to help regulate hormones and boost fertility. It is important to talk to your doctor before beginning any type of alternative treatment, as they may be able to provide guidance as to which treatments are safe and effective.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Making healthy lifestyle changes is essential for couples dealing with infertility. This includes making healthy diet choices, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep and rest. It is also important to take time to relax and practice self-care activities such as meditation and yoga. Making healthy lifestyle changes can help you to manage your stress levels, which can have a positive impact on fertility.
It is also advisable to deal with pre-existing health problems with your doctor and to make healthy lifestyle changes such as those listed above. Eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining a healthy body weight and can also improve your overall health. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber can help to reduce inflammation and promote fertility.
Exercising to exhaustion was associated with an increased risk of infertility (OR = 2.3, 95 % CI 1.2-4.5) . However, engaging in moderate physical activity such as walking, swimming, or cycling for 30 minutes at least 5 times per week can help to maintain a healthy body weight and can also offer mental and emotional benefits .
While the emotions you are experiencing about infertility are completely normal, dealing with them in a healthy way can make all the difference. Finding a way to express your feelings through talk therapy or joining a support group can help you to process your emotions in a healthy manner.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is one of the most important steps you can take towards improving your fertility. Eating a variety of whole foods, such as lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy and increase your chances of conception. Eating a variety of foods is also important because different foods contain different levels of nutrients. For example, dark leafy greens are packed with folic acid, zinc, and iron which are all essential for reproductive health.
In addition to eating a balanced diet, it is important to pay attention to any food sensitivities or allergies you may have. If you think you may have an intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods, try eliminating them from your diet for a few weeks to see if any of your symptoms improve.
Finally, it’s important to note that supplements may help with fertility issues. However, it is always best to get your nutrients through food first before turning to supplements. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about which supplements may be beneficial for you.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for improving fertility. Obesity and being significantly underweight can both be detrimental to conception for both men and women.
Women with obesity and infertility are advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle aimed at losing weight before natural or assisted conception. A randomized study of 379 women with obesity and unexplained infertility found that intensive lifestyle changes that shed pounds led to improved pregnancy outcomes.
It is important to note that losing weight is not the only factor in improving fertility. Other factors such as diet, stress levels, and lifestyle choices can also contribute. However, maintaining a healthy body weight is a key part of the overall equation.
When trying to conceive, practice self-care habits such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep and rest, exercising regularly, and taking time for yourself. If you need assistance in losing weight or improving fertility, seek professional help from your doctor or a fertility specialist.
Exercising regularly has been proven to help infertility patients lose excess weight that can lead to ovulatory infertility. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which can improve fertility. Additionally, regular aerobic exercise has been shown to improve sperm quality and reduce the risk of ovulatory infertility. However, it is important to note that too much exercise can have the opposite effect, and may actually lead to an increase in the risk of infertility. So it is important to find a balance when it comes to exercise.
It is recommended that you perform aerobic exercise for no more than 30 minutes per day, five times a week. This can include activities such as jogging, cycling, swimming, walking or playing sports. Yoga and Tai Chi can also be beneficial for reducing stress levels associated with infertility.
It is important to remember that exercise should be enjoyable and not become a source of stress or pressure. If you find yourself becoming too stressed out from exercising, take a break or talk to your doctor about other ways to stay active without feeling overwhelmed.
Get Enough Sleep and Rest
Getting enough sleep and rest is extremely important for overall health and well being, including fertility. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can negatively affect fertility in both men and women. A lack of sleep can lead to an increase in stress hormones, which can interfere with both ovulation and sperm production.
Research has found that women who are able to sleep for seven or more hours a night are more likely to conceive than those who get less than seven hours of sleep. Men who are trying to conceive may find that skimping on sleep can lower their sperm count and decrease their fertility.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting your caffeine intake, avoiding screens in the evening, and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. Exercise can also help you get better sleep, but try not to exercise too close to bedtime as it can leave you feeling too energized to fall asleep. Taking time for relaxation activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can also help you relax and prepare for a good night’s rest.
Take Time for Yourself
When dealing with infertility and going through treatment, it’s important to allow yourself to feel your feelings and have compassion for yourself. It can be helpful to find a way to express yourself, whether that’s through writing, art, exercise, meditation, or any other activity that helps you to focus on self-care. Taking time for yourself can help to reduce stress levels, boost your mental and physical health, and allow you to remain positive throughout the process. Additionally, it can be helpful to set aside time each day to take a break from thinking about infertility and just relax. This could include activities like going for a walk, listening to music, or reading a book. Taking time for yourself will help you to stay focused and motivated on the journey ahead.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Dealing with infertility is like dealing with millions of emotions at a time. It is essential to accept all the emotions rather than trying to suppress them. Put an emphasis on your well-being. Focus on yourself. Remind oneself that there is no right or wrong way to experience infertility. Feelings may run the gamut from indifference to intense anger or despair – and everything in between. It is important to remember that these reactions are normal and it is ok to feel this way.
There is no one right way to deal with the depression that can come with infertility. Recognizing emotions as they come and staying in the moment can help to reduce the power of negative feelings and thoughts. Self-care activities like yoga, meditation, journaling, or creative arts can also be beneficial for managing stress and emotional health.
The stress and intense emotions when dealing with infertility is hard to overcome, but managing it can be the key to building a positive outlook. It is important to talk to someone who understands what you are going through and can provide emotional support. A friend, a family member, a counselor, or a support group can all be great sources of comfort and understanding when dealing with infertility.
Talk to Others About Your Struggles
Talking about infertility can be difficult for everyone including friends and family members. It’s important to remember that communication is key. When talking to a loved one with infertility, the most important thing is to let them know you’re there for them. Just asking how you can help goes a long way. You may need to teach them how to deal with the emotional side of fertility treatment. Explain that you’re going through a lot and need someone to talk to, and that it’s ok to not have all the answers.
If you’re having trouble voicing your feelings to each other, write down some open-ended questions (start with “how,” “what” or “when”), and share them with your friend or family member. This can be a great way of getting your thoughts across without feeling too vulnerable. Relationship psychologist Mairéad Molloy advises ‘Talking to each other and sharing fears is a good start’.
A study suggests most women with infertility do not share their struggles with family or friends. This could be because of feelings of shame, guilt, or even embarrassment. Don’t make assumptions about their feelings, but be mindful of their situation and validate their experiences. Don’t minimize their condition, compare it to someone else’s or try to offer advice unless asked for it.
Letting your friend or family member know that you are there for them, no matter what, can make all the difference. We are
Join an Infertility Support Group
Support groups can provide a safe and welcoming space for people to discuss their struggles with infertility. Joining an infertility support group can help you feel less alone, provide a source of comfort, and offer valuable advice. RESOLVE Peer-led Support Groups are a great option for those who are looking for an informal setting to discuss their infertility journey. The group can be tailored to fit the needs of the participants, and it is open to everyone regardless of the stage they are at in their infertility journey.
Support groups can even focus on one particular fertility issue, such as those who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), unexplained infertility, or recurrent miscarriage. Topics for a general couples group typically include stress reduction, self-care, anger, and depression, dealing with family and friends, communication skills, and decision making. Additionally, transgender men, non-binary and AFAB individuals are also welcome to join the group.
The members of the group can provide support to each other by sharing stories and advice. They can also offer emotional comfort in a safe and judgement-free environment. The group is also an excellent source of information about new treatments or resources that may be helpful. Joining a support group can be an incredibly powerful way to cope with infertility and find comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Practice Self Care Activities
It can be easy to neglect your own needs and focus on the bigger picture when dealing with infertility. However, taking time to practice self-care activities is essential to coping with the stress and emotions associated with infertility. Self-care activities can include anything from going for a walk to reading a book, engaging in a hobby, or spending time with friends.
Yoga can also be beneficial for both partners. Yoga is an excellent way to reduce stress, manage anxiety, and improve overall wellbeing. It can also help increase fertility, as it helps to relax the body and increase circulation to the reproductive organs. Starting yoga 6 weeks prior to the IVF cycles can help the couple overcome the anxiety of fertility treatment.
However, dealing with stress can be easy when you learn some self-care skills. You start with you and your self-care and the practice of taking the time to nurture your own mind, body, and soul. Utilize stress-relieving practices like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness. Additionally, check-in with yourself (and your partner) every day during the holidays. Daily meditation, prayer, or simply taking inventory of your physical and mental state can help you stay mindful and grounded throughout the fertility journey.
Dealing with infertility can be a difficult and trying experience, but it’s important to remember that there are resources available to help. Whether it’s talking to a doctor or therapist, seeking support from friends and family, or joining an online support group, there are many ways to cope with infertility. With the right help and guidance, it can be possible to overcome infertility and move forward on your journey to parenthood.