Dealing with

 February 2023 

If you want to have a baby, experiencing fertility problems can be a hugely emotional time.

Healthcare professionals define infertility as the inability to become pregnant after at least a year of trying to conceive. For those who are over 35, the time trying to conceive is reduced to six months.

 If you’re struggling with infertility, know that you’re not alone. Infertility affects an estimated 186 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. And while most people believe that infertility only impacts women, men are just as likely to carry the burden. Infertility may be one of the most difficult things a couple will ever face. Research has shown that the psychological stress experienced by those struggling with infertility is similar to that of people coping with illnesses such as cancer, HIV, and chronic pain. In addition, medications used to treat infertility are also associated with psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Learning positive ways to cope with the stress and anxiety of infertility can be very beneficial to both your mental and physical wellbeing. Here are some tips that can help you.

The key to coping with infertility is to acknowledge that you’re going through a difficult time. Your feelings may run the gamut from sadness and guilt to intense anger or despair – but know that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way. 
Infertility can take a toll on a relationship, often causing unspoken resentment, feelings of inadequacy, sexual pressure, and tension between couples. Regular check-ins about how you're feeling can ensure both you and your partner are on the same page, and supporting one another through this difficult time.
Medical experts say that the grief caused by infertility is similar to the feeling you have when loosing someone you care about. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a counsellor. Counsellors are trained to help couples or individuals with the painful feelings and trauma infertility can bring. Counselling sessions are a safe space to discuss your feelings, fears and concerns with a trained professional who can help you come up with strategies to cope with your feelings.
Infertility does not mean the end of being able to have a family for everyone. There are many different options available. Treatments may include various medications and fertility shots, surgical procedures, or assisted conception such as in-vitro fertilisation, and artificial insemination. And even if the assisted fertility procedures and medication don’t work, there are other options such as surrogacy and adoption.
While friends and family are great, if they haven’t experienced what you’re going through, it can be difficult to relate to them. Online and in-person support groups that focus on fertility struggles are great places to meet people who are going through similar situations and therefore understand what you’re going through, offering advice and encouragement and sharing experiences. 
Struggling with infertility can be an extremely stressful time filled with uncertainty. Set aside time for actives that are both enjoyable and relaxing such as meditation, yoga, breathing techniques or going for a walk in nature. Exercising, eating healthy and planning fun activities can also help to manage stress as well as balance you and your partner’s life.

If you finding difficult to cope with the stress and anxiety of infertility and don’t know where to turn, consider contacting the Expat Assistance Programme, included in your healthcare plan. This service provides immediate and confidential counselling support, through live online chat, face to face, phone, video or email.


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