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Stress and Infertility

In their blog post, The Weight of the Glass, Marc and Angel Chernoff post a short story of the importance on letting go of the stress and worries of life that impact our lives.

Stress and InfertilityOnce upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

For those faced with infertility, letting go of the stress may feel impossible. For many, it’s not only their physical and mental health, but also their financial health all tied to the delicate hope of their future family. Just as there are many reasons for infertility, there are many more ways people respond to their diagnosis.

Stress does not cause infertility.

That actually needs to be repeated – stress does not cause infertility. Yet, infertility most definitely causes stress. Infertile women report higher levels of stress and anxiety than fertile women, and there is some indication that infertile women are more likely to become depressed. This is not surprising since the far-reaching effects of infertility can interfere with work, family, money and sex. Finding the right coping techniques to reduce stress, tension and anxiety can mean all the difference.

Just like exercise, what works for one person, may not work for another; so try different things to find what works best for you.

There is no avoiding grief

Grief is inevitably part of the infertility journey. People experience infertility cycles with both hope and loss. This brings high- highs and low- lows. The unique part of the infertility process is that the losses are compounding. Month after month, cycle after cycle, treatment after treatment, the losses compound and the grief can expand. Grieving each loss is an integral part of the process toward healing.

Consider finding a support group or talking with a therapist as ways to help you through the process. A good mental health professional with experience in infertility can help you sort out feelings, strengthen already present coping skills and develop new ones, and communicate with others more clearly.

If you would like to learn more about GENESIS Fertility New York or are ready to schedule an appointmentplease speak with one of our New Patient Specialists at 718-283-8600

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