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Surviving the emotional roller coaster

With so many ups and downs, coping with infertility is often compared to riding a roller coaster. One moment, you're flying high, hoping you're closer to having a baby. The next, you discover that you're not pregnant--you got your period or the dreaded phone call explaining that your treatment didn't work.

To conquer those ups and downs, it's important to know how to handle the ride.

How to be emotionally stronger 

Below are several tips to stay in control and manage your emotions while undergoing fertility treatment.

Be prepared for quickly changing circumstances 

Be prepared and be ready to quickly adjust to new circumstances. When starting fertility treatment, you don't usually know what to expect and it's important to quickly adjust your life plans and address your emotions in order to absorb all the information you have been given and adapt to the changes.

Fertility treatment can affect many areas of your life (your sexual life, your body, your relationships, your social life, your time and your finances). Therefore, the more prepared you are to deal with variability and uncertainty, the easier it will be to cope with stress and changes in your life.

Hormonal treatments may affect your emotions

When taking hormone therapy, you may overreact to situations that you would normally not think twice about. This response is totally normal. It's important not to blame yourself; just think of this emotional episode as temporary. Your emotions will return to normal once your body returns to its original equilibrium.

Experts recommend that you find new ways to handle strong feelings so you can better cope with anger or negative emotions. For example, you may want to take up regular physical exercise, such as walking or swimming, which is a great way to clear your mind and let your feelings out.

Taking up a creative hobby (such as photography, painting, scrapbooking or pottery) will allow you to express any emotions you may be holding in. 

Pressure to have sex

There are instances in which one partner can feel obligated to have intercourse at specific times, which can provoke frustration when one partner is working late, has a business trip, or is just not in the mood for sex. Partners who go through cycles of sex on demand can find that lovemaking loses its playfulness and spontaneity. In this situation, sex can become an obligation to be conducted only during mid-cycle. At times the pressure on the male partner to perform at mid-cycle is so great that he has trouble getting an erection or is unable to climax and ejaculate. During fertility treatment, change your love life only as much as you need to. Certainly do have sex at the times your fertility specialist recommends, but prioritize lovemaking as you usually do the rest of the month as well.

In the situtation where a sexual performance problem is preventing with conception, share this information with your physicians so that they can help you seek medical treatment or sex therapy.

Don't allow parents or other family members come between you as a couple

If you are being nagged by parents or the extended family about when you are going to have a child, develop a plan together as a team on how to handle this issue.  

Allow yourselves to grieve if a treatment is unsuccessful

If treatment is not working or if you give up on having a shared, genetic child, allow yourselves to grieve the loss. Even if you are satisfied pursing a child conceived with a sperm or egg donor, or adopting a child, you have still experienced a loss in your life and have the right to feel natural sadness.

Sharing your feelings

Expressing yourself is essential when coping with the emotional aspects of infertility. Often, valued friendships are especially important, but friends and family may not always understand the true impact of infertility, and they may make comments that are insensitive.

While many people do not fully understand infertility, it is important to recognize that other people don't know what you' are going through unless you share it with them. Try not to close out friends who make discouraging remarks. You may choose to let them know how you are feeling and how they may be able to help. You can offer family and friends reading material about infertility, such as this website or articles. Books with quotes from people who are infertile may be especially beneficial to loved ones who care.


Emotional aspects

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Be prepared for rapidly changing circumstances in your treatment and be ready to adjust to them quickly.

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