While not always the case, endometriosis is often associated with infertility, particularly in severe cases. Besides the direct effects, infertility can have a detrimental effect on your mental health by having (or developing) conditions such as anxiety disorders and depression, and feelings like guilt and hopelessness. Without question, dealing with endometriosis-related infertility is a difficult, stressful situation, but it’s one you can get through.
Infertility & Stress
The distress associated with infertility is extensive: according to one study, its psychological effects are comparable to those seen in cancer patients. Dealing with infertility associated with endometriosis requires coming to terms with your life plan changing: if you’ve always dreamed of having children—or even if you hadn’t given it that much thought—having that possibility taken away is a momentous change to contend with.
Of course, there is grief to be had as well. In dealing with the inability to become pregnant, there is an inherent loss of what could have been. If infertility manifests as the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, you grieve not just potential, but tangible losses as well. You may need to deal with family members and friends who don’t understand, even if they may empathize. Medical appointments and decision fatigue are draining.
Potential treatments for endometriosis and endo-related infertility are likely to add additional stresses, too. Surgeries and other medical procedures that may occur due to endometriosis add not only the stress of the procedure itself but financial strains as well. The costs and risks of in vitro fertilization or the emotions of going through adoption processes can be distressing. Simply determining how, if at all, you’d like to bring children into your life despite infertility, is a stress-filled decision process.
Dealing with the Distress
The emotions that come along with infertility and its treatment can be difficult to manage, but there are ways to help relieve some of that distress:
Research healthy coping techniques
Some healthy coping mechanisms include communicating with your partner, family, and friends, seeking out support groups or insight from others who’ve been in your position, and learning more about endometriosis, infertility, and the emotions associated with these conditions. Consider visiting a therapist (in person or through telemedicine channels online or over the phone) to work through what you’re feeling, get further insights into your mental health, and develop a treatment plan to help you feel better.
Learn more about your mental health symptoms
If a therapist isn’t in your budget right now or you want to put more work into your treatment at home between sessions, taking the time to learn about your emotions and the psychology behind them can help you understand them more thoroughly. Spend some time reading a mental health blog and other resources to educate yourself on your emotions and the ways they manifest. By learning as much as you can, you’ll be better equipped to handle the stress and symptoms that come your way.
Know what you can and can’t control
One of the key points of infertility-induced stress in the uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control any aspects of what you’re experiencing. For example, if you’re going through the process of IVF PGD or PGS (preimplantation genetic diagnosis or genetic screening) it can help to screen for healthy embryos (and increase the chances of a safe pregnancy and healthy baby). As much as possible, try to focus on what you can influence rather than adding extra worry by trying to control what you can’t.
If you’re dealing with the stress of endometriosis-related infertility, know that you aren’t alone. Practice healthy coping mechanisms, visit a professional (virtually or in-person), and remember that, while you can’t control everything, there are some ways you can reclaim the control over your life that you’ve lost. Most importantly, take care of yourself along the way.