When you’re diagnosed with infertility, your whole world becomes about your body.
Every test, every consultation, every discussion with your doctor and every late-night Google search zeroes in with hyper-focus on the physical aspect of your diagnosis and what should be done about it.
The #1 priority, no matter what, is: find the problem and fix it.
But what gets left out of the conversation in all this?
And this is a problem. It’s a problem because an infertility diagnosis is as emotionally devastating as a cancer diagnosis. And that’s not a wild guess: studies have shown that infertility causes the same levels of anxiety and depression as cancer. (You can read those here and here.)
But if you’re struggling with infertility, you probably don’t need a study to tell you this.
Clients come to me, often after years of struggling unsupported under this emotional load, saying things like:
“I want a baby so badly I could die.”
“I cry constantly.”
“I feel empty inside.”
Yet the emotional toll of infertility is continually disregarded and made unimportant. At the very least, it’s a far, far distant second to the urgent need to find and fix the physical issue at all costs.
And this is even more of a problem because some of those same studies show that when the emotional and psychological effects of infertility are addressed, the probability of successful pregnancy goes up dramatically.
Like this study, in which women with “severe levels of depression” attended a cognitive-behavior program designed to decrease depression and anxiety.
Within 6 months, 60% of them had conceived. That was compared to a 24% conception rate in another group of women who had low levels of depression and did not address it.
Nearly every woman I have spoken with over the years has told me she is at least mildly depressed and / or struggling with anxiety over her fertility.
Does that surprise you? What I hope is that it helps normalize what you’re personally going through.
I believe the constant denial of our emotional and spiritual selves when it comes to our reproductive health is the #1 disconnect in addressing infertility.
And it’s my hope that infertility as an epidemic is forcing us to finally look at this disconnect and do something about it.
Because I’m constantly bearing witness to women asking themselves “What am I supposed to be learning from this journey? What is the lesson?”
I think the epidemic of infertility is forcing us to look at ourselves in a more holistic way–we are not just walking wombs. We are rich, complex, intricate spiritual, physical and emotional beings.
So how can we go toward our difficult emotions so that we can feel them, address them, work through them…and achieve the pregnancies we so deeply desire?
This is the conversation that I want to open up over the next few months. And as we start to discuss this, I’d love to hear from you:
- What have the emotional effects of infertility been like for you?
- Has your medical team done anything to acknowledge or address the emotional piece for you?
Join me in our Yoga Goddess Support Circle, and let’s start talking about this.