Collateral Damage During Fertility Treatments
Last updated: January 2023
Newly married at 41 years old, and my husband and I wanted a baby. Between my age and my history of endometriosis, I quickly started on fertility treatments and all the medications that go along with them.
If you’ve gone through fertility treatments before, specifically IVF, then you know the insane amount of medication that you go through in a single cycle. It can change quickly. On the first medication this day, off it three days later, and onto the next.
Thankfully the brilliant mind of my fertility doctor orchestrates every move. Every detail is factored in to ensure the optimal stimulation of eggs and transfer of a healthy embryo.
The hormonal hijacking during fertility treatments
I was so grateful for my doctor and the medication we could access because of our health insurance. I don’t take that for granted. It is a true blessing.
What feels like less of a blessing, though, is the effects of your hormones being hijacked in the process. Anxiety is the first to rear its ugly head.
For me, I feel it most when I first wake up in the morning. It’s the definition of a rude awakening.
Typically, mornings are my favorite time of day. I feel my best, it’s quiet in the house, and I enjoy my morning routine.
But on fertility medication, my favorite part of my day becomes the most challenging part of my day. It tends to set the tone for the rest of my day, too.
I have to be really intentional and patient with myself to not let this morning's anxiety carry into the rest of my day. Then there’s the fatigue, headaches, changes in my skin and nails, and so much more.
If I’m being honest, I felt guilty for even being frustrated by these symptoms, or what I call collateral damage, because I wanted a baby, and this was helping me to make that dream come true.
These symptoms are temporary; I know that. But this is still my body, and it feels like it’s being taken over, and at the moment, the only thing I experience is the negative effects. And keep in mind this is all before pregnancy begins.
Getting through fertility treatment side effects
So how do we navigate this? I’m sorry that I don’t have a perfect answer to this. I am sharing how I chose to get through it, but it’s by no means “right” or “perfect.”
I first allowed myself to feel all the feelings. I didn’t want to push away the resentment, the frustration, the sadness.
They were all legitimate feelings. Pushing them away felt like it was discrediting how I felt. So, I allowed myself to feel.
I also became aware of the story that I was telling myself about this experience. It was okay to acknowledge that this was hard, but I didn’t want to build out an entire story in my head about how it wasn’t “fair.”
Let me tell you, I could build out some pretty good stories here. But I knew that wasn’t going to take me to any helpful place. I had to accept it as part of the process and most importantly, allow myself to be messy in the process.
Each day, I’ll have good moments, and I’ll have really hard moments. I just need to take each one as they come and breathe through them.
It wasn’t perfect, but neither was I. That’s the point. This process isn’t fun or easy, but this is what makes it so important to stay plugged into a community like this so that we can support each other along our journey.
This is just what worked for me. I want to hear from you. What helps you to navigate the physical and emotional effects of fluctuating hormones, whether it’s through fertility treatments, medications to manage endometriosis, or your body going on its own rollercoaster ride? Share below so we can learn from you too.
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):