Karen Potter
Psychologist and Psychotherapist
Lismore, NSW
conceiving

Conceiving – the Ups and Downs

For many women, becoming pregnant can feel easy and joyful whilst for others it can be difficult and a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs.  For women who have difficulty conceiving, the experience can become very painful emotionally and psychologically and this adds to the stress of the situation.  In this article we look at the impact of infertility on mental health and what can help along the way.  We also discuss the situation that a number of single women can find themselves in – having the desire for a baby, feeling that time is running out but no partner to have one with.

 

The Impact of Infertility on Mental Health

The struggle of infertility can be an isolating experience and often comes with a sense of helplessness and frustration to both women and men. Most couples do not have any idea of what conceiving will be like for them until they start trying (unless there is a physical condition that they have been aware of prior).  And often, when there are no prior issues, most couples imagine they will not have any trouble becoming pregnant because it is just ‘natural’ to do so.  Due to this, it can often come as quite a shock and very disheartening when something as special and seemingly ‘normal and natural’ as getting pregnant does become an issue.  Frequently, when a couple have ‘tried’ for some time, they will see their GP and/or a specialist to do some tests to determine if there is a physical issue that is causing the difficulty.

 

Depending on the outcome of physical examinations and testing, many couples still experience an emotional rollercoaster of wanting, hoping, anticipating alongside anxiety, frustration, despair, helplessness and stress.  Sometimes, if couples differ in their attitude and feelings and/or if they have different ideas about what to do about it, this can add to the stress.  And, even when couples are on the same page about it all, sometimes the emotional and psychological impact (particularly if it goes on for a long time) can have a negative impact on the relationship.

 

Then there is always the question of ‘will this ever really happen?’  Unfortunately, this issue can become a negative, downward spiral for both men and women, particularly if the stress and anxiety of trying to conceive dampens libido and/or the hormonal balance in the body. These issues make it very important to address any emotional, psychological or relationship issues from the very beginning.  This helps to ensure that both partners stay as stress-free, relaxed and united as possible, throughout the journey to become pregnant.

 

Some strategies that can be helpful for couples include:

  • Communicating feelings and thoughts clearly to one another regularly
  • Providing a sense of understanding, validation and empathy towards each other
  • Keeping a strong connection by continuing to nurture the relationship i.e. spending time together doing enjoyable things/activities at home or out
  • Seeking professional therapeutic support

 

Strategies that women and men can do on their own include:

  • Developing regular meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Setting positive affirmations around staying present and relaxed and saying them daily
  • Speaking to supportive family and/or friends about their experience and feelings
  • Joining a group or community of people who are going through a similar experience
  • Seeking professional therapeutic support

 

Overall, it is important that men and women remind themselves and each other that they are deserving, worthy, and of value through this shattering and stressful experience of trying to conceive.

 

Conceiving in a New Age

Medical treatments have developed to such an extent that more and more couples and single women are turning to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to help them conceive.  IVF is a huge physical, emotional and psychological process to undertake, however for many couples and individuals the real possibility of becoming pregnant moves them to and through this.  The process of IVF for couples and single women will be discussed in more detail in a later article.

 

It is very common for women to want to have a baby, even when they are single.  As women age, their ‘biological clock’ can get louder and louder and alongside this, the desire for a baby can become stronger and stronger.  Feeling this way can have a negative impact on seeking/finding a partner as it can become overwhelming, frustrating, and anxiety-provoking.  Some single women decide to seek IVF treatment to conceive using donor sperm.  This whole experience for a single woman can be very difficult on many levels – emotionally, psychologically, practically, financially as well as physically.

 

Strategies that women can do in this situation include:

  • Joining a group or community of people who are going through a similar experience
  • Developing regular meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Setting positive affirmations around staying present and relaxed and saying them daily
  • Speaking to supportive family and/or friends about their experience, concerns, and feelings
  • Seeking professional therapeutic support

 

For more information, advice, and psychological support around this issue, contact Karen Potter to organise a consultation on 0438 389 829 or visit her website.

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