National Infertility Awareness Week is upon us! Take part in the 5 Day Challenge from now through Friday, April 29th. To learn more about what the challenge is for each day, visit https://infertilityawareness.org/niaw-5-day-photo-challenge/. Are you feeling confused about what infertility is? Well, let’s define it. Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying. Some couples also experience what is known as secondary infertility, which is defined as the inability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term after you’ve already had one successful pregnancy. Infertility is much more common than you might think, affecting 1 in 8 couples (approximately 12% of couples worldwide). So, what is the impact of infertility on our mental health? Well, it’s quite devastating. Those of us navigating infertility often experience symptoms of associated depression and anxiety. There is a myriad of feelings that can occur, such as confusion, frustration, nervousness, worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or decreased self-esteem. We often feel let down by our very own bodies. Further, infertility can negatively impact our social relationship and overall quality of life. Quite honestly, it is a heartbreaking experience to go through. To make matters worse, many of us have felt unsupported throughout the infertility journey–whether it’s a barrier to treatment, an invalidating family member, or an overwhelming sense of shame that leads us to isolate from others. Now that we know what infertility is and how it can impact our mental wellbeing, what can we do about it?
- Normalize your feelings. Know that you’re not the only one navigating this journey and trying to make sense of the complicated feelings that come along with it.
- Feel your feelings. Whatever they may be.
- Take care of yourself. Focus on what you need. Implement a self-care routine in whatever way makes the most sense for you.
- Educate yourself. The infertility world is often confusing and terrifying. Talk with a professional about your infertility options and ask as many questions as you need to.
- Seek support. Do you need an individual therapist to help you make sense of this new reality? Do you need a group of people with shared experience to better support you? Do you need to communicate your needs with your partner? Seek support in whatever way you need.