More than 6 million women in the United States have difficulty getting or staying pregnant, and they are increasingly open about how hard that can be — especially online. But while infertility isn’t the taboo topic it once was, mental health support still isn’t what it needs to be for the subject. Research shows, for example, that depression levels in patients dealing with infertility can be comparable to those seen in patients dealing with cancer.
So how do you take care of yourself when you’re grappling with something so grueling, so personal, and still so misunderstood? Here are five simple self-care tips to try:
1. Tell yourself — and others — that it’s OK to feel stressed.
The connection between stress and fertility struggles is complex and something that reproductive experts are still trying to understand, in part because there simply isn’t a great way to study it. But that probably won’t stop friends and family members from opining that stress causes (or at least contributes to) infertility.
“It’s very counter-productive,” said Dr. Suleena Kalra, an associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the University Of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “It’s just kind of one of the worst things you can tell a couple who is trying to do everything right ... that if they would just relax, it would happen.”
Remind yourself — and anyone who shares an unsolicited “so and so stopped worrying and she finally had a baby” anecdote — that there isn’t a straight, causal line between stress and infertility, and it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed out while you struggle to grow your family. Telling yourself that — and empowering yourself to shut down anyone who insists it is the root of your issues — is a small act of self-care.
2. Ask yourself: Is this a fact or a fear?
When you’re dealing with something like infertility, which in so many ways is totally outside of your control, it’s...