Coping with Infertility: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy on the Fertility Journey (Video)
Last updated May 27, 2021
Study after study have shown that fertility struggles are one of the most difficult challenges anyone goes through. Emotional health - and the health of your relationships - can take a back seat as you work to overcome reproductive, medical, logistical and financial roadblocks. However, it's important to take the time for the emotional aspect of the journey. Doing so will help you reconnect with the richness of life, and even support your chances of conception.
In this 30-minute video, Mandy Rodrigues, Clinical Psychologist, puts emotional health on the TTC journey in a broader context and provides research-based, practical tips to cope with the challenges of infertility.
What you'll learn in the Emotional Health on Your Fertility Journey webinar
In this 30-minute webinar, you'll learn:
- Why the rollercoaster of fertility struggles is so difficult to cope with
- Why emotional health is important while trying to conceive
- What you (and your partner) can do to stay emotionally healthy while trying
- When to consider seeking out expert help
Mandy Rodrigues is a clinical psychologist specializing in psychological health around fertility issues. With over 25 years of clinical experience, she has authored numerous books on the subject and train healthcare professionals on the topic.
Her practice focuses on emotional health before and during fertility treatments, grief counseling for miscarriages, stress management and decision-making around third-party reproduction for individuals and couples. Based in South Africa, Mandy works with clients all over the world. Her popular online stress management course is specifically geared toward people going through fertility struggles.
Originally Aired On:
May 20, 2021
Post-Webinar Q&A with Mandy on Coping with Infertility
Mandy answered four of the questions from our community about coping with infertility through strategic use of social media and support forums, diet and empathic communication with partners. Let's dive in:
Sometimes I find tremendous support on social media or use it as an escape, but other times I see things I don’t want to see. Or hear hurtful comments. Do you have any tips for using social media while on a fertility journey?
There is so much available on social media nowadays. A lot of digital media is not monitored by a professional and may paint a more naïve or more idealistic picture of our journey. I suggest following groups or media that is valid and reliable.
You may also find you get unsolicited information from friends on social media like pregnancy announcements, gender reveals and so on. I suggest to my patients to perhaps hide these posts until they feel better able to navigate how it makes them feel.
I would suggest following a site consisting of parents going through the same challenges. I post daily 1-minute videos on all my social media channels with different perspectives on all types of journeys along with patients talking about how they coped and useful advice as well as latest research in bite-size chunks. I suggest you follow something like that for more useful support. I also have a blog on my website with a useful guide to perhaps disseminate to family and friends on how to help you.
Do you have recommendations for supportive fertility forums?
Every country has support groups for various stages of journeys. These include online support, meetings (taking into consideration Covid restrictions) and online forums. If you go to https://www.ivfmedia.org/ , they have recommendations as well as useful international live events and webinars to support patients.
In Africa, we have numerous online groups like the Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa, the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy, Hannah – You_Are Not_Alone, Fertility Conversations Foundation, Vessel is Me, Waiting Wombs Trust, Zurin Zilani Foundation, Empower Mama Foundation and House of Fertility, as well as my own social media channels above.
[From Fertility Nutraceuticals: In the US, Resolve has a list of support groups that you can search by location. If you are on Facebook, Rebecca Fett's It Starts with the Egg group is a very active forum. There are also a number of meetups around fertility issues, as well as support groups for specific groups of women, like Broken Brown Egg. Please do reach out if you need help finding one.]
Does nutrition play a role in mental health while trying to conceive? Are there specific foods, diets or nutrients that can ease anxiety or help with depression? Are there foods or diets that can make things worse emotionally?
Nutrition does indeed play a role. The reason being that a poor lifestyle or diet has an impact on insulin, and thus an impact on our egg quality. Also if our insulin is not normal, we are more prone to depression and anxiety.
You will know your insulin is a problem if you suddenly crave carbohydrates in the afternoon, are fatigued and need carbs and sugar to lift your energy. Also you may get irritable when you haven’t eaten. Remember, carbohydrates lift our mood temporarily as our sugar spikes, but then sugar levels drop, insulin goes up and we feel worse.
If you log onto our stress management site, there is a recommended diet and supplement program that is individual-specific and fertility-specific.
What should I say to my partner who isn’t good at sharing what he feels? I can tell he is stressed about our fertility treatments, but he tends to retreat to himself.
Men and women indeed manage this process very differently, especially if you have a man who doesn’t express himself in normal circumstances. Men tend to be more solution-driven, box their feelings, and detest feeling helpless, which is what this whole journey is about. They may fear expressing their fears for worry it will upset you.
I suggest telling him you won’t break if you get upset. You would like to share this journey with him, and he just has to listen. Maybe suggest he listen to a talk or two for you, so he isn’t put on the spot.
Below are some of my short videos which describe couple’s different approaches to infertility and how to open up the conversation.
- Impact of Infertility on Relationships
- Infertility and Relationships
- Infertility and Your Relationship
- Impact of Infertility on Your Relationship
- Support during Infertility
- LISTEN in Communication. Hearing is a Given for Most.
- Send This to Your Partner When You Don't Know Why You Feel the Way You Do
- Men and Women
Your point about the power of knowledge resonated with me - that removing as many unknowns as possible can reduce the anxiety before diving into testing or treatment. My partner’s brain doesn’t work that way. More knowledge seems to make her more anxious, especially when there’s no consensus even among experts. How can we navigate this difference?
Empowering yourself before the fertility journey makes the journey more predictable and less daunting. Having a plan of action ensures some sort of peace of mind. By the time people present to a fertility clinic, they have often researched extensively but perhaps not as to the actual emotional attached to each process and potential coping mechanisms. Men are more likely to want to know detail and statistics, women need comfort, support and a listening ear. To navigate these differences, I would suggest starting with my videos, linked above.
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