How to cope with infertility

8 min
Updated Oct 31st, 2023

Table of contents

Coping with infertility can be brutal. You can feel both hope and loss going through an infertility cycle, with each loss adding to your grief each time. Sometimes, those who are facing infertility need to spend time grieving, others prefer to pick themselves up quickly and focus on the next challenge. Other ways of coping are to throw themselves into detailed research, while some prefer small amounts of information to process.

Whatever you’re doing, and however you’re doing it, there’s no wrong way to feel about infertility. You have to get your head around a major shift in your life expectations while being constantly reminded of your infertility by medical treatments, questions from your family and friend’s pregnancy announcements. We explain how to cope with infertility, aiming to empower you, so that you can manage your feelings, whilst continuing your journey with renewed strength.

How to cope with infertility?

1. Acknowledge your feelings and fears

Everyone is different, but certain feelings are common when faced with infertility: worry, shame, envy, longing, sadness, anger and grief. It all adds to the stress. And for some people, fears about infertility can be debilitating if they aren’t addressed: fear of not becoming a parent, fear of the unknown, fear of medical procedures or fear of losing your partner. Recognising your feelings and fears and learning how to manage them is one of the most beneficial skills you can have. This will enable you to manage disappointments, calm yourself down, refocus and give yourself the best possible chance of conceiving.

2. Be open and honest with your partner

After recognising specific feelings and understanding what is triggering them, communication is the key to helping you to manage them. After being honest with yourself about your feelings you need to be open with your partner so that you can navigate those feelings together. Not realising how the other person is feeling can lead to misunderstandings and resentment. Unfortunately, when people are feeling strong emotions, it’s common to take it out on a partner. If the partner doesn’t understand why this can cause problems. 

As well as talking you need to make sure that you’re both listening to each other, asking questions and supporting each other. You’ll likely be feeling different emotions and reacting to them in unique ways.

3. Understand your options

When you’re coping with infertility it’s normal to feel a lack of control. But this can be eased by understanding all the options available to you. You need to be referred to a fertility specialist who’ll evaluate you and your partner in order to understand which fertility treatment options would work best for you. Creating a plan will help you to feel more positive about the future. There will also be recommendations about how you can improve your chances by making lifestyle changes through diet and exercise as well as things like stopping smoking and drinking alcohol.

Impryl is recommended by doctors and fertility specialists to give you the best possible chance of conceiving as it’s rare that you’ll get the nutrients that you need through diet alone. Impryl’s unique formulation contains activated micro-nutrients.

4. Join an infertility support group

The strength of joining an infertility support group mustn’t be underestimated. Infertility can make you feel isolated in a sea of pregnancy announcements and finding a support group where you can share and say ‘me too!’ is invaluable. Not only will you feel the relief of being able to share outside family and friends with people who will understand, but you’ll also gain infertility advice. Support groups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are one-to-one, some are large, some are online and others are in person.

5. Speak with a professional fertility counsellor

It’s normal to feel sad when you’re coping with infertility. But if these feelings of sadness turn into depression, or you think they might, then you need to seek a professional fertility counsellor. A support group won’t be qualified to advise you regarding depression or trauma, you’ll need professional advice. 

You can have individual or couples counselling (or a mix of both). If you’re feeling unsure, look at it like this: you wouldn’t think twice about getting professional help for the physical side of infertility — the psychological side is also important. 

Professional counselling offers you a safe space where you can be open without fear of what the other person might think. It offers you a place to pause and take a deep breath in an otherwise turbulent time in your life. This allows you the chance to be able to see your path more clearly, make changes if needed and gain coping mechanisms.

6. Find a healthy outlet for expressing your emotions

With all this focus on your emotions, things can feel intense. While it’s important to talk through your feelings, you also need to find other outlets. For example, if you’re feeling frustrated or angry it can help to channel that energy into an activity that is completely non-related. Many people find that certain sports allow them to think only about the activity and this provides a much-needed mental break. Consider things like swimming and horse-riding or a team sport if you prefer the comradery. If you need something to work up a sweat try rowing or boxercise. If you fancy a slower pace, take an art or pottery class. Giving back by volunteering can be very life-affirming; channel your energy into helping others through volunteering at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.

7. Practice self-care

We know, ‘self-care’ is overused in marketing. But it doesn’t require you to buy anything. It’s simply the self-awareness to look after yourself mentally and physically as part of your daily routine. And because time is short and the days fly by, self-care is a way of formalising that care. Self-care is vital when trying to conceive because it prioritises your health. This includes: a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, regular exercise, work boundaries and open communication.

8. Don’t blame yourself

Blaming yourself or your partner uses up precious energy and is bad for your mental health and your relationship. You’re both in it together. The only thing you can control is how you handle the situation. Blame doesn’t have to be an obvious declaration. It can rear its ugly head in the form of anger or frustration. If this happens to you, consider using a fertility counsellor to work through the emotions so that you can focus on your fertility treatments.

How does infertility affect your emotional wellbeing?

Social factors

Negative emotions about infertility don’t just come from inside — they can also come from social factors such as social expectations and societal norms. These pressures are often created by alarmist media headlines or nosy questions from family members. But the same pressures can be amplified by social media as you feel ‘the clock is ticking’ when you see your peers starting a family. Take a break from social media and have a chat with well-meaning family members.

Biological factors

Biological factors are to blame in most cases of infertility. After receiving a diagnosis of infertility, women can feel grief-stricken, feeling they’re not a woman without a biological child. Likewise, a man can feel less masculine, along with feelings of shame, embarrassment and worry about traditional views such as continuing their family line. 

Both men and women can also feel a loss of control over their bodies. There’s actually an ever-growing number of options and it helps to focus on what can be done to help, rather than what’s currently not working. Sometimes infertility isn’t the only health problem that a couple is facing. Conditions such as eating disorders, mental health problems and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can also impact fertility treatment.

Psychological factors

The impact of infertility on mental health can be substantial, affecting many areas of everyday life. One study has found a link between infertility and anxiety and depression, but how they are related isn’t clear. Having anxiety and depression may contribute to infertility and the distress of infertility and treatment often leads to anxiety and depression. 

And, no surprise, both men and women have higher levels of stress when going through IVF compared to the rest of the population. However, most people don’t seek professional help, thinking that along with many life challenges, stress is just part and parcel of infertility treatments. Professional mental health care is vital. 

Financial factors

Financial strain puts pressure on any relationship and fertility treatments are expensive. IVF is only offered on the NHS if certain criteria are met. It’s common for couples to go into debt in order to pay for private treatment, again adding to the stress. There are charities in the UK that provide help and support to those who are struggling financially with fertility treatments.

In Summary

Sadly, the negative infertility narrative of pity and shame that’s prevalent in society can make those who are facing infertility feel worse. We want to turn around that narrative by looking at the things you can take control of to boost your fertility. From making lifestyle changes to joining a support group or seeking financial help, you don’t have to cope with infertility alone.


Chavarro, Jorge E. MD, ScD1 et al. Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder Infertility. Obstetrics & Gynaecology 110(5):p 1050-1058, November 2007.
Rooney, Kristin L.  BA. The relationship between stress and infertility. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018 Mar; 20(1): 41–47.

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