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Infertility Tests Every Aspect of a Couple's Life

Infertility Tests for Every Aspect of a Couple's Life

The Power of Hot Fudge continued...

Often just sharing those experiences can help, Gellman says. "It was so important to know there was somebody else who felt exactly how I felt, and it was great for the husbands, too, because they saw that their wives weren't so unusual and abnormal, or that they weren't going crazy."

But Domar says that depression among infertile women is just as severe as the depression experienced by those with life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease and AIDS. That can make positive, or even realistic, mindsets hard to drum up, she says. "Infertility is a brutal process, and unlike any other medical condition, the patient is blamed for it," she says. "Every infertility patient in the world has been told, 'Just relax, and you'll get pregnant.' Would you say to a cancer patient to just relax and the cancer will go away?"

So don't be surprised if all the platitudes and rationalizations -- such as try focusing on other aspects of your life -- don't take the edge off, no matter how true or well intentioned. "If you tell an infertile woman to have a life, she'll throw things at you," Domar says. "It's an incredibly stressful process. The problem is that, I believe, the depression that results from the experience may kick in and contribute to the infertility."

At the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health, Domar teaches a variety of physical and cognitive skills women can use while they're going through infertility treatments. Stress-reduction techniques include meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, nutrition and keeping a journal to express emotion. Or women might do things to nurture or indulge themselves, like taking a mental-health day, having a bubble bath, watching a "chick movie" or eating a hot fudge sundae.

"I think women pay a very high price with some of these infertility treatments -- it can be very demoralizing -- and perhaps in our zeal to make sure they become parents, we've ignored the possible downside," says Penny Simkin, a childbirth educator, doula and birth counselor in Seattle. She says women need more professional support, not only during treatments but after they've conceived. In the meantime, it's fortunate that most couples still have a pot of gold waiting at the other end.


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