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Fertility Network UK
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Just wondered if anyone has some advice for handling stress, I will admit I'm a naturally born stress head, but starting out going through these test I don't think I'm coping to well at the moment. With my husband getting the ok with his sperm feel like all the pressure is now on me, which I know won't help to naturally concive :-/ I've just had my ultra sound and waiting for period to book my SALP test. The hospital sent me a letter giving me every little detail about SALP test which I didn't really want pointing out in my face and that totally freaked me. I think all I've got going round in my head is this is only the start and it's only going to get worse! I know many of you are further on than me how did use cope with stress/ unknown and staying positive ?

12 Replies

Firstly, don't panic! All these tests suck, but sound scarier than they actually are. At least your hubby got tested first! My hubby despite having had childhood problems was investigated last! After it was determined I had unexplained infertility. Turns out he had azoospermia! No swimmers. So I had a billion tests and exploratory surgeries for nothing! Infertility is stressful. Try not to overthink. It just makes it worse! And think happy thoughts. You're on the right path. You can do this.


Hi, I agree that the tests all sound a lot worse than they are. It is a stressful time, I agree. I was a mess at some points but I've had good days too. I think you need to find what works for you. Writing down things helps many people. Going for walks or something, having a hobby. I have also seen a counsellor, which is an individual choice, but it helped me. What you are feeling is normal. We all go through it slightly differently but you are not alone. look after yourselves xx


I don't have any advice except to say I am not better at being able to handle it than you are if that helps! It seems to me we would all like to think there is a better way to coping and a secret to finding this whole process easier when in fact I am rapidly coming to the conclusion there is no magic answer. It is a stressful process to go through and all you can do is take one day at a time. I have good days and I have very, very bad days and I can't seem to control which day is going to be which. All I can do is cope with what ever it happens to be. I am trying to learn to be kinder to myself and not worry if I have a bad day. I do find getting out and about walking can help us but equally staying in in front of the fire is sometimes what is needed. I have taken up sewing again and this can help but equally some days doing not much helps too. I wish luck finding whatever makes this process easier for you and hope you know you are not alone in finding it stressful beyond belief.

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Hello, The test is not too bad. I took some painkillers before hand and it was a bit uncomfortable but that's all.

The stress of the whole process is definitely the worst thing. I've been seeing a counsellor which has helped the most and I feel much stronger having done so. She gave me some quite practical things to do too. As well as breathing exceercises, she recommended I do Tai Chi (or yoga/Pilates) and I had my first class this week. Afterwards I felt a sense of calm and had a good nights sleep! I've been for quite a lot of acupuncture and I also like reading (nothing too heavy!) and high impact excerise. Recently, I've started a journal and write things down.

All of this definitely helps but I still have good and (really) bad day too! One minute I can be feeling absolutely fine and the next a thought pops into my mind and before I know it I'm in floods of tears!

Take care & good luck x


I'm a bit of a stress head too.

The tests weren't as bad as I thought, the waiting in between the blood tests and results was the worst bit for me.

I find walking and swimming help and keeping busy with other hobbies. I've also been having acupuncture, which I wasn't sure about before I tried it but I'm finding it relaxing. I've also been using CBT techniques from counselling I had a few years ago.

Probably best to try a few things and see what works for you.


I really liked relaxation CDs, which help your mind relax and concentrate on your body and fertility: thefertilebody.com I also saw a therapist from this site; really helped take the pressure off me. And ultimately I thought about the end goal, and just wanted every test going so that things could be fixed/worked around. I'd also add that there are more tests for men than just the SA; I strongly feel that male factor is massively overlooked (but that's largely because we were told hubby was fine/fixable through ICSI when that wasn't strictly the case).


Thank you for all your replys, nice to know I'm not the only one going through these emotions and I'm not actually going mad.

we have a 6 month old pup so love walking I don't think he will complain if he gets dragged out for some destressing walks.

I've also talked my husband into trying Pilates with me ( I'm hoping he's not going to be the only man or he might not be too happy lol).

I think I will try writing a journal and see how that goes.

It's a long and stressful jorney and hopefully we will all get the joyful ending we all long for.


I was at the British Fertility Society conference last week and it reinforced that the industry often doesn't acknowledge the emotional aspect of the journey. A Harvard Medical Study shows that the stress levels of women going through infertility can be equivalent to those with AIDS, cancer and heart disease. Other studies show that it is one of the main reasons people don't continue with treatment.

I have done a series of webinars for INUK all about the mind and fertility, about finding peace of mind on the journey. I call it a place of peace without giving up. It's hard to believe it exists but I assure you it does. My wife found that place before me on our journey.

We hit rock bottom when we got my test results 8 years in to our journey having been focusing on her fertility and I had never been tested until that point. She didn't want to accept the situation as she thought it mean giving up and she didn't want to be that person that gave up the possibility of having children. However acceptance of where you are today doesn't mean giving up.

Stress is all future thinking, telling yourself what is/isn't going to happen in the future and you don't like the picture you have created in your mind. The thing is, nothing can predict the future.

I often share a really simple but profoundly effective breathing exercise with clients to help you relax. It is one you can do any time, any place, anywhere and no-one will know you are doing it! It helps you focus on your breath, which is your body which is always in the here and now so helps let go of all the future thinking. It also lengthens the out breath so you utilise more carbon dioxide in your breath which is a natural biological relaxant. It is simply:

1. Count 1-3 in your head as you breathe in

2. Count 1-5 in your head as you breathe out

3. Repeat!

It doesn't have to be a deep breathe, match the pace of counting to a nice relaxed breath. It doesn't have to be a special breath like in you nose and out your mouth, just a nice relaxed breath. You can do it with your eyes open or closed. After 3, 5 or 10 breaths you may notice how you begin to feel more relaxed.

Of course I am also a big fan of hypnosis CDs/mp3's as I am a Fertility Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist!

You can see the recordings of the series of emotional support webinars here (click on the link of each one and it will take you to the video recording of it):




That information on the Harvard Medical Study is really interesting, as I think those with no experience of infertility may not equate the stress of infertility as equivalent to living with those conditions. I often feel the stress of infertility is belittled in comparison to say cancer (I think because as death is not a potential outcome!)

I am a big fan of the breathing excercise you suggest (which my own counsellor also recommended).


It is belittled isn't it. Why is what being told just to relax is so infuriating and demonstrates people don't understand. Of course they are well meaning and want to help and say what they say in love. x


Because it's something so important to you, there will always be some form of stress hanging around :-(

I've had acupuncture, reflexology and listen to the Zita West CD's. I think with everything combined, it has helped me.

I hate living by what if's, but I can't do much to control this....

Try to take each step at a time, otherwise you will fill your head with too much uncertainty x


Hello little miss! Gosh a lady after my own heart! Undergoing the investigations arent the most pleasent of experiences but are definitely not as bad as they sound, a week before every test my anxiety levels used to shoot through the roof, physically preparing yourself is fine its the emotional prep that I struggled with! Its the 'what ifs...' Honestly your experience of SALP will be different to mine and anyone else that has gone through it, my DH went with me to all of my initial tests and I found that helped so much (parking at the hospital pushed my stress level though the roof, thats before id had the test!). And honestly it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be! Its a emotional roller coaster and what the fertility journey doesnt prepare you for is the emotional side of it. If you can, confide in people that you trust, pull on your support network they are the most valuable tool in your arsenal. That and filling your time with nice things to look forward too! Best of luck xx


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