Infertility, uncertainty, and feeling out of control
One aspect of infertility that many people find especially challenging is the uncertainty. Will this next try work? When will we get to try again? Will this ever work?
Research shows that uncertainty has a negative impact on our mental health. While some people are typically more comfortable with uncertainty than others, the long-term nature of uncertainty with regards to infertility can be destabilizing even for the most “go with the flow” people.
The lack of control can also feel unnerving. We might have thought we would be able to decide when to have children and how many we’d have. But as it feels like those decisions are being taken away from us, we do what we can to feel like we’re in control (doing research, following fertility diets, or anything else we can think of) - for better or for worse.
In some ways, infertility invites us to shift our perspectives on life. It’s one of those experiences that makes us realize that there’s actually very little that we can control. It might feel counterintuitive, but surrendering and accepting the uncertainty might actually bring feelings of freedom and openness.
Here’s what you can do:
- In an effort to control your infertility, it can be tempting to follow the thought path from one potential decision to the next. If you choose this treatment, and it doesn't work after three tries, then you'll choose a different approach, but if that doesn't work, then maybe you'll change clinics… This might help you feel more in control, but you’re not actually in control because in reality you don’t know what the future holds. Instead, this type of overthinking can fuel your anxiety.
It can help to make an active effort to be short-sighted and focus on what you can actually control. You can only take one step at a time.
You can use journaling to reflect on what you know and can control right now, and which decisions feel important to make right now. It can help you clear your mind and return to the present moment.
- Another way to cope with the fear and discomfort of uncertainty is to build habits or set goals that give your life some structure.
Choose a self-care practice that you can build into your daily schedule like gratitude journaling, doing something creative, or moving your body. Mindfulness is another great self-care activity, as it helps you build awareness of your thoughts and feelings, and practice non-judgment.
Try these tools in the Tilly app to help with the uncertainty
- Breathwork: Anxiety relief
Experience how breathwork can help you manage and lower your anxiety.
- Journaling: Coping with worries & uncertainty
Journaling prompts to help you process your experience.
- Meditation: Handling uncertainty
Take a few minutes to learn to sit with the “not knowing” that comes with infertility.
- Journaling: Calming stress & anxiety
A guided reflection tool to support you through heightened feelings and stressful situations.
About the author
Maya Maria Brown, M.A., is an infertility mental health expert. She has a master’s in Counseling Psychology, and has worked with individuals and couples on infertility and relationships. She also has personal experience with infertility and is currently in treatment.
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