Instead of feeling overwhelmed by anxiety during treatment, you can take the initiative to make you feel better about yourself
One thing people will often tell you when you’re trying to conceive is that you should relax more. Friends and relatives may say that you are becoming too focused on getting pregnant, they may advise you to forget all about trying to conceive and may suggest that you’d be more likely to conceive if you could just stop thinking about it so much.
Only someone with no personal experience of fertility problems could possibly advise that you should “forget” about trying to conceive. You can’t just switch off your desire for a baby or obliterate it from your thoughts, and it can actually be counterproductive as the more you try to forget, the harder it becomes to stop thinking about it.
Does stress cause infertility?
In recent years, there has been a lot of focus on stress and fertility and many patients worry that being stressed and not thinking sufficiently positively will have a negative impact on the outcome of their treatment. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the evidence about the impact of stress on fertility is far from conclusive and although there have been some studies to suggest that there could be a link, there have been many others which have concluded that there isn’t.
When people going through treatment are constantly told that being stressed may make them less likely to get pregnant and that they need to be calm and relaxed, it can have the very unhelpful effect of making them feel even more anxious. You may find that you end up becoming stressed about the fact that you are feeling stressed, and this in turn can make you even more stressed!
Infertility causes stress
It is really important to understand that having a fertility problem is in itself incredibly stressful. People often imagine that in order to maximise their chances of success they should aim to sail through tests and treatment in a zen-like state of peace and calm, but in fact this is completely unrealistic. IVF is often referred to as an “emotional rollercoaster” because of the ups and downs people inevitably experience as they go through the process. Dealing with the complex emotions of infertility and treatment is never easy, and some degree of stress is inevitable.
The first, and most important, step to dealing with the stress caused by fertility problems is to accept that it is a perfectly natural response to feel this way. Once you have accepted this you can stop trying to fight the stress, and then you can move onwards and do something to help yourself through it.
You are never going to eliminate stress entirely and it is vital to appreciate this, but what you can do is to take action to help to relieve the anxiety you feel. This can help to make your path through tests and treatment run more smoothly.
There are many things you can do which will help relieve stress. Yoga and meditation, physical exercise, going to an art gallery or concert and even creative activities such as knitting or painting can all make a difference. You will want to find something that suits you personally, but you may want to give any of these things a try and see if they work for you. Not only will you find that you are more able to deal with your fertility treatment, it can also be beneficial for your overall sense of wellbeing – which can only ever be a good thing.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.
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