10 Signs That It’s Time to Get Help on the Infertility Journey

Infertility can be an incredibly isolating, painful experience. But how do you know it’s time to find professional support? Dr. Deborah Simmons, a marriage and family therapist, shares 10 signs to help guide your decision to seek help.

You may have just gotten an infertility diagnosis and it has thrown you for a loop. You have been trying to conceive longer than you ever thought possible. You are confused. You are afraid.

Feeling emotionally worn out is one of the major reasons that people drop out of infertility treatment. It might be time to talk with a mental health professional who specializes in infertility and infertility treatment. 

Here are some signs to guide your decision to seek help:

  1. You feel hopeless and helpless, trapped in a scary limbo that is not of your own making. You may think passively of wanting to disappear to find some peace. You are thinking of harming yourself. These are definite, urgent signs that you need to seek help ASAP.
  2. You and your partner are not on the same page about when or how best to pursue infertility testing or treatment. It can be very helpful to have an outside person who can help you make big life decisions. 
  3. You don’t feel that you recognize yourself and you are not sure if your “old Self” is coming back. If you are normally an optimistic person and you can no longer find any silver linings in the infertility cloud, it might be time to talk with someone who can help you find perspective in the struggle.
  4. You are blaming and shaming yourself for the infertility battle. You have many “shoulds” for yourself. You cannot get out of a negative thought loop about yourself or the battle. This may be a long-term pattern that is worsening under the stress of waiting to get pregnancy or in the middle of infertility treatment.
  5. You cannot imagine getting through a baby shower or walking through the baby aisle at your local store. You may feel guilty for not attending events for people you care about, but you just cannot open yourself up to the possibility of falling apart when others seem so happy.
  6. You are angry or distraught whenever you see pregnant bellies, strollers, and babies. Unfortunately, it seems like they are everywhere you look because that is what you want so badly.
  7. You fear that you are running out of time and you have a growing sense of desperation. You are either in a state of denial or a state of terror. Doing nothing will add to your sense that time is passing without action.
  8. You feel that your concerns about infertility are being dismissed by your partner, your doctor, your friends, or your family members. That can be crazy-making. You don’t have the energy to debate this crucial topic with people who are supposed to be on your support team. You feel defeated.
  9. You are increasingly depressed or anxious about your chances of conceiving or carrying a child. You are having difficulty getting out of bed or going to work. At work, you are having a hard time focusing on your work.  If you are avoiding things and people, you may well benefit from help.
  10. You are considering ending your relationship, either because you want your partner to be free of “your” problem, or you want to be free of your partners’ attitude. Strengthening your relationship can help you to get through the rigors of infertility treatment.

The bottom line is don’t wait to get help. You can find a mental health professional specializing in infertility through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The sooner you find the right therapist, the sooner you will feel better and more able to stay in the fight to be a parent.

Dr. Deborah Simmons has provided counseling for infertility-related trauma and pregnancy loss for more than 20 years. She offers clinical hypnosis, EMDR, cognitive behavioral therapy, couples therapy, and energy work. She prepares straight and gay couples and single women and men who wish to pursue IUIs, IVF, donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos, and surrogacy. She prepares gestational carriers for surrogate pregnancy. Dr. Simmons consults with the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Minneapolis where she screens potential egg donors. She is also working in the area of fertility preservation with women who have been diagnosed with cancer and with transgender men and women who wish to be parents. She is an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Resolve.

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