COVID-19, fertility care & mental health: Coping with stress

Our Coronavirus Resource Center is available for anyone who has questions about how efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 are impacting the pursuit of parenthood. It is constantly being updated with answers to your questions, links to resources, and the latest guidance from global experts.


Going through fertility care is already stressful enough. With the added anxiety of cancelled cycles and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been receiving a lot of questions about how to cope. 

In one of our recent webinars with Peggy Orlin, MFT, we covered several strategies for coping. You can watch the webinar to hear all of her answers and learn some helpful techniques; we’ve also summarized some of the answers from the webinar below.

Going through fertility treatment is already stressful enough. How can I deal with this additional stress?

This is an unprecedented time for everyone. We already know that fertility treatment is intensely stressful for those going through it, so dealing with COVID-19 adds a second level of stress. But, fortunately, there are a few things that people can do to help manage that stress.

First, remind yourself that this shutdown of fertility services and cycles will come to an end — it is temporary! You will be able to return to treatment. 

For those going through treatment with a partner, consider scheduling time every day to talk about your fertility treatment. Set aside 15 minutes for this discussion, and do it at the same time everyday. Use that time to discuss your thoughts and feelings. This allows the partner who is thinking about the treatment all the time to know it will be discussed every day, but it also limits the talk for a partner who may prefer not to discuss the issues all day. 

For everyone, focus on stress-relieving habits: moderate exercise and meditation are great places to start. There are a lot of yoga and fitness classes online right now. You can also use apps like Headspace or Calm to go through guided meditations — they typically offer introductory sessions to get you familiar with the concept.

Finally, always remember to look for little bits of joy in your life. We often lose sight of those things in times of stress. It can be something as simple as stopping to look at a rainbow or appreciating fresh air on a walk. Feel gratitude when you’re able to. Find humor where you can. Give back to others — shop for a senior who’s fearful of going out to the store. 

Does stress impact my chances of getting pregnant? Will a month or two delay have an impact on my fertility?

It isn’t 100% clear if stress can impact getting pregnant — while some recent studies say that there is no impact, other studies have suggested otherwise. One of the areas where we do know stress impacts fertility, though, is that it can cause patients to discontinue their treatment due to feelings of being overwhelmed by their stress.

It’s important to stay in touch with your doctor to help mitigate those feelings of stress and understand if a delay may have an impact. Ask them the facts about your situation rather than searching the internet — it helps to be educated, and your fertility care team is the best resource when it comes to your unique experience. It can also help you avoid spiraling down into difficult feelings. 

If you do find yourself spiraling down into difficult feelings — it happens to the best of us! — try to remember to pause and take a deep breath. Remember that, when it comes to thinking things like “never” or “always,” unless the doctor told you that was your case, it is probably not true. 

I was mid-cycle and my clinic had to cancel due to closures related to COVID-19. How can I deal with the disappointment of this and get myself mentally ready to start all over again?

Dealing with disappointment is an ongoing process — it isn’t something you can simply move on from. So acknowledge that feeling, and remember that it doesn’t have to control everything. Of course you are disappointed. This means more waiting, and we all know how difficult waiting is for people going through fertility treatment. But you don’t need to get over the disappointment before you can begin your treatment again. 

In some circumstances, those dealing with disappointment may also find themselves feeling depressed. Being depressed for a short duration is common. Symptoms would include a lack of interest in doing things you used to enjoy, excessive crying or irritability, loss of appetite or overeating, inability to concentrate, changes in sleep or your energy level, or thoughts of suicide. If anyone has these symptoms for more than a week, contact a medical professional, and they can help you get treatment. 

My partner works in a high-risk environment, and it’s causing me a lot of stress. What can I do to cope with this?

This is a situation where education can go a long way in alleviating stress. Talk to your partner about their situation — what’s happening at work? What steps are they taking to stay safe? What steps are their employer taking to keep them safe? 

It’s normal to feel a loss of control in these situations, but remember that everyone is in this together. When people are participating and doing their part — including you as the supportive partner — it’s helping to flatten the curve. 

I’m a healthcare worker, and my stress levels have gone way up. Are there resources available for me?

The National Center for PTSD has helpful guidance for healthcare workers: 

  • Regularly check in with your support network of family and friends
  • Take stress reduction breaks, get refreshments, and take care of your body
  • Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t
  • Work in teams where possible
  • Get regular peer consultation
  • Recognize that the rest of the world is grateful for your work and sacrifice

My city has a stay-in-place order in effect, and I’m really struggling with working from home and having to stay inside. Any suggestions for dealing with this change?

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a number of resources to help. First, they suggest trying to reframe the thought “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself.” Think about what you might like to get done during this time — perhaps now is a great time to weed your garden, organize your closet, or explore new routes while walking your dog.

They also suggest trying to stay as close to a normal routine as possible. Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. If you’re working from home, try to resist the temptation to fall into a more lethargic routine. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your pajamas. Sticking to your normal routine will help keep you active and mentally healthy, and it has the added bonus of making it easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.

I’m feeling lonely and isolated right now. Are there online support groups or other people I can talk to going through this?

For fertility patients in need of support, is a wonderful resource. They offer a number of online support groups. We also compiled a list of additional places for support on our Coronavirus and Fertility Resource Center.

At Carrot, our teams are continually monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and how it may impact family-forming journeys. Our Coronavirus and Fertility Resource Center, including our Carrot Care Team, is available to everyone — even if you aren’t a Carrot member. We’re all in this together.

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