What is infertility trauma?
8 Ways to Heal and Cope
The world views trauma as an emotional response to a terrible event or experience one goes through. When we look at infertility we see the psychological impacts of anxiety, depression, loss, grief, fear, shame, guilt, regret, and isolation that it leaves in its tracks. Studies show that some women that go through fertility treatments and medication therapy find the situation so distressing that they develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Everyone’s fertility journey is different and unique.
Therefore, everyone is impacted by their fertility experience differently. But when we look at all these factors, we can fairly see that infertility is categorized as trauma.
Infertility is not a life threatening illness, but it can feel like an illness to an individual that has gone through countless rounds of fertility treatments, medication therapy doctor appointments, ultrasounds, testing, blood work, fertilizing of embryos, relationship changes, miscarriage, and/or surgery.
The journey of infertility is an experience that one goes through knowing that there are no guarantees to what the outcome will be in having a family of your own. It’s putting on a brave face when you are around family, friends and colleagues. Not being able to share the pain you are going through because you were told by your doctor that your cycle was not successful, or your pregnancy test came back negative. It’s feeling like that there is something wrong with your body, wondering why you are not able to make a baby on your own. Feeling shame and alone because you think no one will understand what you are going through. You’re told to “just relax”, “go on vacation”, or “maybe you are not meant to be a parent”.
When going through all these traumatizing situations in your fertility journey, this can cause you to grief the vision of your family planning. Grief of any kind typically does not go away suddenly or spontaneously. It takes time, patience, understanding and a willingness to go through the various of stages to help cope with what you are going through. There is the denial stage which helps us maintain the overwhelming pain of loss.
You have the anger stage to get you to adjust to your new reality. Then you move onto the bargaining stage where you are willing to do anything. Then you realize that nothing is working so the depression stage settles in and we really start to feel our loss and panic begin. We finally come to a place of acceptance; it is not that we no longer feel the pain of loss, you’ve just come to accept it.
When going through infertility, we will experience these various stages, but we may not experience them in this order, and which is perfectly fine. We just need to go through the emotions, feelings and give ourselves grace and patience. In the meantime, we can use tools and resources to help us heal and cope with our journey.
8 Ways to heal and cope with Infertility Trauma:
1. Practice Self Care – be mindful of your thoughts, words, and actions. Practice meditation, being still, connecting to nature and doing things that bring you joy.
2. Find a therapist or Coach who Specialize in Infertility – talk to someone who understands what you are going through and can help you navigate through your journey, feelings, and emotions.
3. Forgive Yourself – this is an important aspect of self-compassion and personal growth. Holding on to shame or guilt can cause more harm than good. Forgiving yourself is a process that takes time. So, remember to be gentle with yourself and know that forgiveness will help with your personal growth and healing journey.
4. Open and Share What You’re Feeling – there are others who are or have been on a similar fertility journey. Don’t be afraid to speak to others.
5. Give Yourself a Break from Social Media – social media can trigger many feelings and emotions that we suppress. Give yourself time to connect to things that are more meaningful to you, that make you happy, and feel calm. This helps release serotonin, dopamine and endorphin which tells your body and mind that you are in a state of tranquility.
6. Acknowledge and Feel Your Feelings – acknowledge and allow yourself to feel your feelings. This is an essential part of emotional well-being and self-awareness. It’s important to understand that all emotions are valid and serve a purpose in our lives. By acknowledging and allowing ourselves to feel our emotions we develop emotional resilience and a deeper understanding of ourselves.
7. Celebrate and Enjoy the Little Wins – celebrating and enjoying little wins is a wonderful way to develop positivity, boost your self confidence, and find joy in everyday achievements.
8. Set Health Boundaries –setting healthy boundaries is crucial for maintaining your well-being, preserving your time and energy, and fostering positive relationships.
Remember, healing from infertility trauma takes time, and everyone’s journey is unique. Be patient with yourself and prioritize self-compassion. It’s important to honour your feelings and seek the support you need to navigate this challenging time in your life.
I AM STRONG, I AM BRAVE, I AM A WARRIOR!! Believe in yourself and the power of healing!!
By: Tammy Resko
Fertility Friends Foundation is here to make a difference!