The Lonely World of Infertility

Five Ways to Cope with the Emotions of Infertility

Perhaps the greatest loneliness of infertility is how life goes on. You pass people on the street, rolling a baby in a stroller. Family and friends seem to conceive without effort, have children—and wonder out loud why you’re not participating in this way of life. The unconscious cruelty of people you love is hard to bear.

Do you feel lonely and isolated? It’s okay to not be okay with all this! What do people feel who are dealing with fertility problems? How can you cope as you work toward building your own family?

Emotions and Symptoms

You are not alone—any couple dealing with fertility issues or undergoing fertility treatment rides an emotional roller coaster, which may include anxiety, depression, loneliness or feeling out of control. You may not even recognize what you’re feeling, or that other people in the same situation feel the same way. Sometimes you need to listen to your body, and your body will tell you what your heart knows. Here are some signs that you’re feeling lonely, grieving for the baby you don’t have yet, and depressed:

  • Lack of energy (especially when you have an unsuccessful IVF cycle or when you see a pregnant friend)
  • Headaches
  • Irritability (snapping at people or making mountains out of molehills)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme sadness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Anger out of proportion to events

How to Cope

  • Acknowledge your feelings and don’t try to deny them or bury them.
  • Set aside a short time to feel your feelings, and then move on. Cry, hit a pillow, vent, for 20 minutes or so. Then pick yourself up and keep going. Acknowledge how you feel, but it doesn’t help to dig yourself in to a trench of sadness and negativity.
  • If you find this is hard to do or it doesn’t help, then seek professional help. If you are going through fertility treatment, your fertility clinic may have counseling available or support groups so you can talk to other people who understand what you’re going through. A good therapist or counselor can help you understand your feelings and not be overwhelmed by them.
  • Understand that your partner may not have the same emotions you do, or may not express them the same way. Don’t think that they aren’t hurting if they don’t express the pain the same way you do. This is a critical time to be kind and tolerant to each other.
  • Find people in the same situation who understand through support groups or social media, but be careful who you choose to associate with. RESOLVE, the National Fertility Association, has many support groups around the country.