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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karenne Fru, MD, PhD, Reproductive Endocrinologist

Self-care and COVID-19 during Fertility Treatment

There are numerous facets to consider when it comes to fertility treatment, and it can be a source of considerable stress and anxiety for patients. Self-care serves as a reminder for patients to address the non-medical aspects of treatment, redirecting their focus away from the medical process and toward actions they can take to navigate the inherent unpredictability. Until you are actively undergoing treatment, it is impossible to know how you will react to it. Therefore, it is crucial to take charge of your mental and emotional well-being, enabling us to concentrate on the medical facet of the treatment plan. Fortunately, there are several measures that patients can take to facilitate the processing and handling of the emotional and mental challenges that arise.

One of the essential self-care tools that I recommend is establishing a relationship with a therapist who can assist in processing and navigating this journey. Frequently, options and experiences previously unconsidered will emerge during treatment. A professional therapist provides a safe and healthy environment for processing feelings, emotions, and thoughts. We can assist in facilitating a referral to an experienced and vetted therapist who is familiar with infertility. Additionally, it is advisable to consult your medical insurance provider to determine the extent of mental health coverage and counseling services available to you.

Another valuable self-care practice is to maintain a journal throughout the process. This serves as a means of keeping track of your progress and performing regular self-checks. The journal should be a space for honest self-reflection and anxiety management, allowing you to identify and address your most significant concerns. Moreover, it provides a platform to record thoughts and observations that you can share with your nurse or physician, ensuring that you do not overlook anything during your next appointment. Additionally, incorporating gratitude into your journaling practice plays a pivotal role in overall happiness and well-being.

Physical activity is a remarkably powerful tool for alleviating worry and anxiety. I strongly encourage my patients to set aside 30 minutes each day for a walk. Engaging in physical exercise not only benefits you physically but also contributes to emotional well-being. Another therapeutic activity to consider is gardening, as it offers a sense of accomplishment amidst the sometimes perplexing journey.

Engaging in meditation or prayer offers a way to engage in introspection while simultaneously calming worry and anxiety. These practices serve patients well even after treatment concludes. They enable you to center your thoughts and focus on positive aspects, rejuvenating your mind and providing an outlet for stress.

Apart from the aforementioned self-care tools, in non-COVID-19 times, we recommend engaging in bimonthly activities such as massages, visits to pedicure and nail salons, acupuncture sessions, and meetups with other women who are going through similar experiences. Book discussion groups, small gatherings, and other social interactions can also provide stress relief, nurture, and enjoyment under normal circumstances.

Considering the current COVID-19 situation, it is important to address the legitimate concerns regarding fertility treatment. Our primary objective is to minimize the risk of exposure for our patients, as falling ill could result in unintentionally exposing other patients or our team at PREG. If you contract COVID-19 during fertility treatment, a two-week quarantine period becomes necessary, and you will be unable to continue with your care, missing crucial treatment appointments. Restarting the process from scratch is not only costly but also contributes to heightened anxiety and worry. Therefore, we strongly urge our patients to take every feasible precautionary measure to minimize the risks associated with COVID-19, while ensuring that it does not become an obsessive focus.

To effectively address the COVID-19 situation, it is essential to practice diligent hand-washing hygiene. Avoid getting out of your car or interacting with individuals beyond those who reside with you unless you are wearing a mask. If you unintentionally touch a surface, refrain from touching your face and immediately wash your hands. It is advisable to avoid participating in outdoor dining, indoor restaurants, and large gatherings. If you must go out, call ahead to ascertain the protocols followed at restaurants, grocery stores, or other establishments. Inquire about the wearing of masks by both staff and customers, as well as the sanitization practices implemented between guests or customers.

Engage in open and informative conversations with your extended family members who do not reside with you, making them aware of the risks involved and the precautions you are taking. Explain the significance of minimizing contact during treatment to ensure that they comprehend the seriousness of potential exposure. It is vital to avoid contact with individuals outside of your immediate household. I often encourage my patients to consider the activities, places, and individuals the other person has been in contact with when making decisions regarding social interactions. Avoid individuals who disregard recommended protocols, as anyone outside your home poses a risk of exposure.

By diligently adhering to these guidelines and recommendations, we aim to enable our patients to navigate their fertility treatment journey with confidence while minimizing anxiety and worry about COVID-19.


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