Infertility Treatment: 7 Tips to Manage Stress
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
Infertility treatment can be physically uncomfortable, time-consuming,
exhausting, and costly — all without a guarantee of success. The infertility
experience for many can range from multiple diagnostic procedures through
progressively more aggressive treatment options, all of which impose demands
upon the emotional and physical self. It's no wonder that many women experience
severe stress, depression, or anxiety during treatment for infertility.
It is possible although difficult to relieve some of the stress and
pressure of infertility treatment. Some tried-and-true stress control
suggestions from former infertility patients and counselors include the
- Accept that you are experiencing a time of heightened stress and don't
try to downplay or deny its effects. You may find that you need to cut back on
some or all of your nonessential obligations or activities for a while. Give
yourself permission to say 'no' to nonessential commitments and demands on your
- Don't suffer alone. Confide in a trusted friend, loved one, or support
group. Social support networks can tremendously reduce feelings of stress and
emotional pain. Many infertility clinics also offer support groups and/or
counseling services. If you're trying to conceive as a couple, accept that your
partner may also feel stress, depression, or anxiety and may not be able to
provide all the emotional support you require right now.
- Join RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. You should be able to
find a local chapter in your area. Individual chapters sponsor support groups,
newsletters, and seminars and lectures on treatment options. Both health care
providers and patients make up the membership of this valuable organizational
- Empower yourself with knowledge about the procedures and treatments you
may need. After researching on the Web, write down a list of questions to take
with you to your next appointment if you feel there are issues you'd like to
- Decide in advance with whom you want to share your experience, and plan
some strategies for avoiding inappropriate questions and unwanted advice from
colleagues and acquaintances.
- Discuss the possibility of treatment breaks with your doctor, if you feel
that you need "time off" from the experience. Some people prefer to be treated
every other month or every few menstrual cycles, while others are stressed by
the waiting periods. Work with your doctor to find a treatment schedule that is
comfortable for you.
Last Editorial Review: 2/22/2007
- Know that it's common for women in the midst of treatment to experience
feelings of depression or sadness, and sometimes these feelings are strongest
when participating in baby or child centered functions. Don't feel guilty if
you want to pass up the baby shower or child's birthday party you're invited to.
Taking care of yourself and your emotional needs is the top priority now.