Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron and moms who have dealt with infertility explain why taking a break may do you, your partner and your body good.
You're on the roller coaster of trying to conceive and want to stop the ride. Is it a good idea to stop for a while, or will it just take that much longer to get pregnant?
Dr. Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron, reproductive endocrinologist with Fertility Centers of Illinois, says, "If a patient is in treatment and takes a break, that can be beneficial to some degree emotionally. Most important is to seek the necessary support in order to make the infertility process less arduous. In this realm, yoga or meditation during fertility treatment can be very helpful. Taking care of one's emotional and physical needs shouldn't be an 'either/or' situation for a patient undergoing fertility care — they should be occurring at the same time."
Katie Hurley, LCSW explains, "I took a six-week break to tour with my husband's band after two miscarriages and one year of ups and downs. It was the best choice I could have made. For the first time in months I was free from constant worry, ovulation checking and obsession about timing. Of course, I also took a leave of absence from my job (unpaid). I thought we would worry about the finances, but really we were just happy to have our marriage back. The freedom to smile and talk about other things can be very powerful. I always say that infertility isn't a roller coaster — it's a Ferris wheel. It's circular, overwhelming and feels never-ending."
Mandi W. is a mom of two who also struggled to conceive. She suggests women take stock of their feelings. "Take a break for just one cycle and see what happens," she says. "Are you less stressed? Did you accomplish something at work or at home? After a one-cycle break, write out how you feel and what happened. It might help to take a 'practice' break to determine if a longer break is good for your soul — and maybe your relationship."
Hirshfeld-Cytron stresses the importance of consulting with a professional before making any decisions.
"If someone is feeling overwhelmed, information is power and can remove some of the uncertainty from a situation," she says. "Seeking out a reproductive endocrinologist for an evaluation may provide the answers you need, and is particularly important if you have been trying for greater than a year. Supporting each other through the process and through support outlets is essential so there is not a need to 'take a break.'"
If you do decide to take a break from trying to conceive, Hurley recommends setting guidelines. "If you agree to take a two-month break, make it a real break," she says. "Try a new hobby, cooking class or something else to fill the void. Talk to a professional. Breaks in treatment are a great time to talk to a therapist and learn how to better cope with the next round. We gain a lot from treatment when we are calm and able to process the information."
Mandi W. explains, "Between kid No. 1 and No. 2 we had five and a half years of fertility issues. We tried endlessly and then finally I said I was done and focused on me. I started losing weight, eventually losing 20 pounds and guess what? Exactly. We got pregnant!"
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