Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her and was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has served as Illume Fertility's dedicated Patient Advocate and Strategic Content Lead for many years and is the founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support patients through gentle movement and meditation. Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.
If so, know you're not alone. A lot of us are feeling pretty exhausted - especially those of us who are struggling with fertility challenges. Staying on top of life in general often feels tiring, but once you add fertility treatment to it...exhausted may be the exact word to describe how you're feeling right now.
At some point, when it comes to infertility and fertility treatment, it becomes not only hard, but downright exhausting trying to get pregnant.
You may be struggling to get enough sleep. But it’s not that kind of exhaustion that’s really getting to you. It's that emotional, mental, weary-beyond-belief exhaustion. Where you can feel your actual cells and DNA are tired.
Repeated disappointments can cause bone marrow-level weariness. Trying to keep your hopes up can cause it too. Bringing yourself to ask questions at each appointment. Driving to the office for yet another another blood draw or ultrasound. The repetitive nature of infertility can cause true exhaustion.
Circular thinking and anxiety spiraling takes its own toll. You know, when your thoughts swirl around and around to the point that you have no idea where they even started and you can't seem to find a stopping point.
Continuously explaining to others what's happening on your fertility journey. Answering the same questions over and over again. It's not easy!
You know that phrase, "There's no such thing as a stupid question?" Well, it may or may not be true when it comes to infertility. Having to answer people's well-meaning queries with "We're trying, but it hasn't worked yet" or "No, I'm not pregnant yet," or even worse, "No, this cycle didn't work either."
Having to open yet another baby announcement or baby shower invitation. Scrolling through social media and seeing ultrasound videos. Receiving holiday cards with newborns being held by their siblings.
It's all so exhausting.
Tips to Fight Infertility Fatigue
Here are five easy ways to feel more rested, energetic and calm throughout your fertility journey. The best part? You can do these at home, with little to no money, and get big results.
#1 Take Time to Unplug
Take a half day or full day to decompress without digital input. It may feel unnatural at first, but it's worth it. Step away from all your screens, take a break from binge-watching that TV show, put your phone on silent.
A few simple ways to make this easier: place your phone at the farthest point in your house, instead of close by where you're more likely to pick it up and check without even thinking about it. If one day's too long, make it a half a day. If a half a day feels impossible, try a few hours.
#2 Do Something Unrelated to Fertility
Use a different part of your brain to give yourself a mental break from thinking about fertility. It could be a beginning to end DIY or craft project or a long-term project that you decide to start. Order the materials you may need ahead of time, enjoying the anticipation of spending your hours differently.
Take your time with colors, textures and designs. Enjoy the process even more by putting on some feel-good music. Turn off your "fertility brain" and turn on your creative side for a bit.
#3 Step Away from Social Media
Decrease envy and stress by getting off social media and use that time instead to take a walk. Increase those endorphins by getting outside! Give yourself an hour and leave your phone at home.
Dress warm if it's chilly out and enjoy the fresh air. Bring a friend if you can and agree not to discuss infertility or fertility treatment.
#4 Nourish Your Body
Find a delicious-sounding new recipe in a cookbook or online (or revive an old favorite), then buy the ingredients and cook away. Really feel the process of planning and preparing food throughout your mind and body - notice the sensations as you wash any fruits and vegetables, breathe in the aroma of what you're cooking, explore different textures.
Set the table with a special tablecloth and candles or plan your meal so that you can watch it in front of a funny movie. Make an event out of it, and remember that your body is worth the time and energy it takes to make a nourishing meal.
#5 Pamper Yourself
Mani-pedi anyone? DIY your nails at home or have them done at a salon. Taking care of yourself in this way can be so relaxing - and relaxing helps do the opposite of activating those stress hormones that have been coursing through your body.
Focusing on the physical pleasure of warm water, massage, pretty colors...it’s rejuvenating. The opposite of exhausting.
You know what else is exhausting? Pretending to be “fine” all the time. Instead, find your people through peer support!
Your regular support system (friends, family and colleagues) may not be the most helpful right now, if your best friend is having her second baby, your sister having her first, your colleague is just finding out she’s pregnant...they may not get it in the way someone else going through fertility struggles does.
Establish new relationships. Talk to people who understand the emotional roller coaster of fertility treatment. Hear about how someone else is handling those ever-present and painful family-building questions...their funny or biting answers may help you formulate a new response next time you're in their situation.
Want to have an honest conversation about what it’s like to go through the process of an IUI or when to move on to IVF? Wondering whether you should do preimplantation genetic testing on your embryos or what the heck an AMH level is?! We’re your people.
We speak the same language. We're walking the same path.
When all the research and information feels overwhelming, you may find that joining conversations with others who are experiencing infertility will offer some comfort, relief and yes, community.
Ready to connect with new friends who "get it?"
Some of our Ladies' Night In support group members offer their perspectives:
“Find a buddy who actually understands what you’re going through. And then trust them and tell them the truth.”
“It was hard not to talk to my best friends, I needed new ones! I found them at Ladies' Night In.”
“If you haven’t gone through IVF, you have no idea. NO IDEA. Talk to us, we get it.”
You deserve a support system who can offer true empathy and understanding during this difficult journey. Your people are out there, and can make such a positive impact on your experience.
This is the perfect time to speak with a fertility counselor. Give yourself this gift! They will listen carefully and then, based on your specific situation, share tools to help you navigate this difficult time in your life.
Talking to a fertility counselor can feel like taking a deep breath when you haven’t even realized you’ve been holding it. They get it and they know how to help fertility patients.
According to a Harvard Medical School study, research shows that those going through infertility experience the same level of psychological trauma as people going through cancer. Research also shows that working with a fertility counselor can help alleviate stress, provide a safe space for you to explore complex emotions and find healthier ways to cope.
Take a Break
This can be a hard one. Your focus may be on moving forward and keeping momentum to have your baby, which is so understandable. But taking a short break may actually be more beneficial in the long run.
If you feel like you can't take an extended break from treatment, spending even a small amount of time shifting your focus can offer a refreshed, energized perspective.
Here are a few things to try for a short break:
Read a new (or beloved) book
Listen to music that makes you feel good
Play a fun board game
Spend time with friends and request no baby talk
Have dinner with your partner or family
Practice some yoga
Take a hot bath
Paint a picture (or even a wall in your home)
Take a nice walk
Have a long talk with an understanding friend
Get outside and garden
Lounge on a hammock in the sun
Get a massage
Just give yourself a break.
Explore ways to take some time off:
You don’t need to be a fertility warrior all the time. While you can (and will) get through this exhausting and challenging experience, it takes a lot of effort, strength, perspective and more. All things you innately have as a human being. You don’t need to be more than you already are - you are enough.
If you are feeling that fertility warrior spirit, then read Nurse Practitioner Monica Moore’s excellent advice on being vulnerable and knowing your own inherent worth.
Infertility is Exhausting
Don't be afraid to step back, take a break or reach out to others for support.
Spending some time away from the stress of all things fertility reminds us of who we are and allows us to come back to fertility treatment with renewed energy and higher levels of hopefulness. Remember that taking some time to refresh and elevate yourself from exhaustion is always worth it.