National Infertility Awareness Week begins today! Our next post comes from Dr. Mary Casey Jacob from the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services, one of our Circle of Support sponsors. Today, Dr. Jacob talks about how to regain some control in your infertility experience.

If you’re looking for more ways to manage the stress of infertility, join us this Tuesday, April 24th in Framingham, MA for Coping with Infertility: Managing Stress, Friends, Family & Life.

National Infertility Awareness Week Managing Infertility

Coping with infertility can be quite a challenge. We have evidence that once you label yourself, or your doctor labels you, as “infertile”, one begins to talk to oneself differently, and many people begin to feel a bit blue. As you work with your doctor and as you wait to see if you will be able to have the children you desire, there are quite a few things you can do to help yourself feel better. This is all about managing your infertility instead of having it manage you. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. For many, and perhaps most, it is good to talk. The problem is, we don’t always make smart choices about who to talk with. No one has a right to this information. So, who do you know who listens well? Who is compassionate? Who can tolerate your sadness and your anxiety? Who will keep your information private, if that is your preference? Those are the folks to talk with!
  2. What do you do when people who do not fit in the above category ask you “so when are you going to have kids?” Have a strategy for responding. If it is a casual acquaintance and not someone you confide in, you can just brush them off and a good way to do that is to just not answer the question at all, or say, “I wish I knew” and then ask them something about themselves instead. If it is someone you do care about and like, but you don’t want to confide in, you could just tell them, “This is so private, I just don’t want to talk about it. I know you will understand.”
  3. If you are trying to conceive with a partner, consider limiting your talks about your infertility or desire for children to one or two times a week. Why is this helpful? In many couples, one person wants to talk a lot, and the other does not. So the “talker” spends a lot of time trying to have conversations but they may be unsatisfying if the other person is trying to avoid or end the conversation. If you make “dates” to talk, and agree to limit the time to something like 20-30 minutes, it can mean a more satisfying talk for the one who wants to talk and then, a nice predictable break for the one who does not. Try it!
  4. Try to notice what soothes you and do more of that. Often times, talking about infertility is not soothing. Laughing is soothing. Reassuring yourself that you will be okay no matter what is soothing. Focusing on the present instead of the past or the future is generally soothing. Having a plan for something fun to do in the future can be helpful.
  5. You know all those folks who always seem to say the wrong thing to you? Take some time to think about what you wish they would do or say, and tell them. It is okay to say “I know you want to be helpful. And what would be helpful to me these days is…”

Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas for managing your infertility instead of having it manage you.

About the Author

Dr. Mary Casey Jacob is a Medical Psychologist and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut.