5 Ways to Stress Less While Tackling Fertility Treatment
Infertility brings with it a roller coaster of emotions, from hope and excitement to sadness and grief.
While undergoing a treatment cycle, such as IUI or IVF, it’s especially important to be mindful of these emotions and minimize stress when you can. If you’re getting ready to pursue treatment or are already doing so, here are five practical tips that just might help you keep calm and carry on, even when it seems impossible.
- Ask questions.
Knowledge is power. Whether you’ve scheduled an initial consultation or are in the middle of a treatment cycle, maintain a running list of questions and bring it with you to each appointment. Otherwise, chances are good that once you’re there, receiving copious amounts of new information and instructions, you may forget some of the things you’d initially planned to ask.
If your clinic offers classes on administering injections, or supplies you with informational pamphlets and webinar links, be sure to take full advantage of these resources. Having a solid understanding of relevant medical terminology and knowing what to expect can help reduce stress levels going forward, and will make it easier to follow up regarding any elements that still aren’t clear.
- Stay organized.
With frequently changing medication schedules and the critical timing of fertility procedures, staying organized throughout the treatment cycle is crucial. Keep a detailed log of your medications, and don’t wait until the last minute to request refills. Store the log, along with your questions and treatment plan details, in a binder or folder you can easily grab on your way out the door. Though you can also store certain materials on your phone or tablet, during an appointment, it may be easier to refer to and update old-fashioned paper documents.
While at the appointment or on the phone, write down any and all instructions you are given, and don’t rely on memory. During high-stress moments, you may forget what you’ve been told, and having everything readily at hand will simplify things and put your mind at ease.
- Seek support.
Having a strong support system can make a world of difference. Ask your clinic if they offer support groups, or visit the website for Resolve, the National Infertility Association, to discover additional resources, including an online support community and help line. Don’t feel as if you have to be positive all the time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Also, while family and friends are an important part of your support network, not everyone will be well-informed about infertility, and some people may even be misinformed, armed with well-intentioned but ultimately inaccurate information. Being mindful of this can make it easier to develop the support system that works best for you.
- Plan activities.
Though you may not be able to travel or take on major new commitments during your treatment cycle, you can still schedule fun outings with your partner or a friend. As long as your doctor approves, going to the theater, seeing a movie or visiting a local museum can help you unwind. Even just enjoying a Netflix night or special dinner at home can be relaxing and fun (not to mention inexpensive, considering all the money you’ve probably spent on treatment), so use your imagination and try to maintain a sense of normalcy, even in times of stress.
- Take care.
Fertility treatment can be tough on the body and mind, so making time for self-care is an absolute must. As long as your doctor is OK with it, heading outside for a walk or engaging in other types of approved exercise can do wonders for easing stress, as can maintaining a healthy diet that helps boost your energy levels and prevent illness. Community events like the annual Resolve Walk of Hope allow you to get some exercise while also connecting with others, so keep an eye out for these types of opportunities in your local area.
Since being overly tired only makes stressful moments worse, make every effort to get plenty of rest, too. Having a clear head will make it easier to keep track of the treatment process and work through any difficulties. Make time to read, meditate, journal or whatever else helps you decompress, and remember that no matter what happens, you are strong, brave and definitely not alone.
Are you pursuing fertility treatment, or do you know someone who is? What coping strategies would you recommend to others?