Treatment Tips – Coping with Anxiety


How to cope with anxiety during Fertility Treatment

It is totally understandable why you would feel anxious as you embark upon your fertillity journey, especially as much of this journey is unfamiliar and out of your control.

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Anxiety is a common and very natural feeling for lots of people going through Fertility Treatment. Thankfully, we’re committed to ensuring we support our patients not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Our Patient Support Manager, Debbie Howe, has written this guide for coping with anxiety during fertility treatment.

It is totally understandable why you would feel anxious as you embark upon your fertility journey and why you may experience nervousness and unease as treatment progresses, especially as much of this journey is unfamiliar and out of your control. Anxiety is a generic term and it is important to appreciate that there are many specific types of anxiety including generalised anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks and phobias some of which you may be familiar with and can be triggered as a response to life event or experiences you have been through.

There is another type of anxiety which may be closely linked with fertility and that is “Anticipatory Anxiety” which is when you may experience a real sense of fear about the future and concerns that your hopes and expectations may not be fulfilled. Anticipatory anxiety tends to keep your thoughts in the future and can feel overwhelming, especially if this triggers a pattern of negative thinking about what may be ahead for you. Anxiety can invite itself into your thoughts however it does not have to stay there all day as there are some simple techniques which you can use to manage the symptoms.

What can techniques can I use to ease the symptoms of anxiety?

As you have read above, anxiety can feel uncomfortable and distracting making it difficult for you to concentrate on your everyday life including your relationship with others, work and socialising. There a some very basic ways to control and reduce your anxiety which are based on being in the present and focussing on what is happening around you.

Grounding techniques such as 5,4,3,2,1

By paying attention to 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste you can ground yourself in your present environment and distract yourself from the thoughts and feelings that accompany anxiety.

Pay attention to your breathing as the regulation of your breathing will help to lower the symptoms of anxiety. As you focus on breathing deeper and the timing of your breathing, this can act as a distraction from anxious thoughts and physically you will inhale more oxygen which may slow down your heart rate as you fill your lungs with oxygen.

There are many types of breathing exercise, I have listed a couple of breathing techniques here for you, however, I do believe it is important to find a breathing pattern which you are comfortable with and which you can practice so it becomes part of your anxiety reducing activities.

Square breathing

Imagine a square, even draw it out mentally or with your finger, so your breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds then repeat this sequence if necessary.

Belly breathing

By Paying attention to fully breathing deeply into your stomach so that you use your lungs fully capacity to expand your belly.

By learning to recognise your own warning signs and triggers it will help you to recognise where your levels of anxiety are and when to implement your calming techniques.

There are many apps available which will provide guided support for breathing and visualisations.

It is important to be mindfully and intentionally taking care of yourself while going through this journey and of course, the following ways to implement this are well documented and proven to be part of good self-care:

  • Regular exercise for wellbeing
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and hydration with water
  • Communicate how you are feeling with someone you feel comfortable in speaking with.

CRGH has a wonderful team of inhouse counsellors who are on hand to support patients before, during and after treatment. To learn more about our counsellors, and how they support our patients throughout the fertility treatment journey follow the link below.


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