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Coping with Infertility
Infertility is a life crisis. Understanding medical tests and treatments and facing medical expenses can be difficult. Your life plan and your body may feel out of your control while you strive to build your family.
In order to cope with treatment, you have to be an informed and empowered patient. Learn what you can about your diagnosis, ask your physician questions, and contribute to the treatment plan. If treatment is not successful you will have to decide when to move on to the next treatment, be it IVF, donor egg or donor sperm, adoption, or surrogacy.
You can cope with the fertile world around you by learning to protect yourself from painful situations and learning tactful ways to dismiss the well-intended, but hurtful comments made by others. Other coping mechanisms may include avoiding baby showers or altering how you celebrate the holidays. You should work with your partner to handle difficult situations. Remember, you are going through infertility as a team.
To help you cope, become familiar with the emotional stages that you may go through during infertility. These stages are not always sequential but usually start with denial that there is a problem. Subsequent stages are shock, anger, guilt, and finally, sadness and grief. These feelings are all normal.
You may be angry at your body, at pregnant friends, and at family or friends who don’t understand. Guilt may surface when you try to make sense of why this is happening to you. (Perhaps thoughts about a past abortion or the decision to wait for several years to try to get pregnant are causing you grief and concern.) Sadness and mourning come as you realize that what you wanted is not happening. Losses include not having a baby, the loss of the pregnancy experience, loss of self esteem, changes in friendships, and changes in the relationship with your partner. To cope with these losses, you must address them honestly.
Infertility is like throwing a rock into a still pond; it has ripple effects into many aspects of your life. One way to cope is by taking control when you can; another is to realize that your feelings are normal.
Where to Find Help for Coping with Infertility
You should start by consulting a Marriage and Family Therapist, or a therapist who specializes in infertility. You can research local support groups, or even take to online support forums, like Fertile Thoughts. There are 7.3 million people struggling with infertility. You should not have to go through this alone.