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Friday, April 6, 2007

Infertility -- Coping Skills

Coping with infertility can be difficult. It's an issue of the unknown — you can't predict how long it will last or what the outcome will be. Infertility isn't necessarily solved with hard work. The emotional burden on a couple is considerable, and plans for coping can help.

Planning for emotional turmoil

  • Set limits. Decide in advance how many and what kind of procedures are emotionally and financially acceptable for you and your partner and attempt to determine a final limit. Fertility treatments may be expensive and often not covered by insurance companies, and a successful pregnancy often depends on repeated attempts. Some couples become so focused on treatment that they continue with fertility procedures until they are emotionally and financially drained.
  • Consider other options. Determine alternatives — adoption, donor sperm or egg, or even having no children — as early as possible in the fertility process. This can reduce anxiety during treatments and feelings of hopelessness if conception doesn't occur.
  • Talk about your feelings. Locate support groups or counseling services for help before and after treatment to help endure the process and ease the grief should treatment fail.

Managing emotional stress during treatment

  • Acupuncture. This ancient therapy may benefit couples who are undergoing fertility treatment.
  • Practice relaxation. Cognitive behavior therapy, which uses methods that include relaxation training and stress management, has been associated with higher pregnancy rates.
  • Express yourself. Reach out to others rather than repressing guilt or anger.
  • Stay in touch with loved ones. Talking to your partner, family and friends can be very beneficial. The best support often comes from loved ones and those closest to you.

Managing emotional effects of the outcome

  • Failure. The emotional stress of failure can be devastating even on the most loving and affectionate relationships and for people who've prepared well for the possibility of failure. Don't hesitate to seek professional help if the emotional burdens become too heavy for you or your partner.
  • Success. Some studies have indicated that even if fertility treatment is successful, women experience increased stress and fear of failure during pregnancy. Other research suggests that women who achieved pregnancy using fertility treatments felt increasingly better and had higher self-esteem and less anxiety as the pregnancy progressed than did women whose pregnancies didn't involve medical intervention.
  • Multiple births. A successful pregnancy that results in multiple births introduces new complexities and emotional problems. The risk of depression is higher in women who have multiple births.
  • Parenting. Once a child arrives, parents are more likely to be more anxious and have less confidence and self-esteem. Discuss becoming parents with your partner and plan for the many changes — challenging and rewarding — that a child will bring to your lives.
source: http://www.mayoclinic.com/

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