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Six Key Steps for Dealing with the Frustration of Infertility

If you have PCOS, and you’ve tried to get pregnant, you may have already discovered that you can add infertility to the list of “what’s wrong with my body.” Infertility often feels like one more failure of your body to perform as expected, and one more thing that feels out of control. There are actions you can pursue to shift your mind and shift your body, however:

Get out of denial – know the timeframes for diagnosing infertility (generally six months of trying without a successful pregnancy if you’re over 40; one year if you’re under 40). Know that infertility isn’t just a matter of stress or bad timing – although those can be contributing factors. Know that infertility is a treatable condition, but it takes finding the right medical team, and that may include some highly specialized people, like a reproductive endocrinologist.

Have your anger – infertility is definitely something to be angry about. You’re mad, you’re frustrated, you’re irritable, you feel deprived, you want what you want – something other people manage to have without even trying – and you are entitled to rant and rave about it. But don’t let anger become your primary way of experiencing your infertility. Take the energy that powers that anger and turn it towards a more productive experience.

Fully experience your regrets – as much as you can understand them in the moment, experience your regrets. These might include the fact that the romance and private experience of love and sexuality are separated from the process of reproduction. Perhaps it means acknowledging that you won’t have a biological child. Or it might even mean deciding that children are not part of your future, at least not right now.

Grieve what you need to grieve – this might include some of the regrets mentioned above, or whatever else you feel or define – loss of womanhood, loss of health, loss of a specific type of relationship. Get support for this grieving if you need it, from other women in the same situation, or from a professional counselor.

Refocus your dreams – now that you’ve moved out of the hope or fantasy of “accidental” or sort-of-planned pregnancy, cried, had your rage, and gathered some support, decide what’s next – assisted reproductive technology, adoption, surrogacy, or a child-free life.

Take action to achieve that dream – make sure you’re on the same page with your spouse or partner, if you have one. Do the research to find a great reproductive endocrinologist, a supportive counselor, a knowledgeable dietician, and any other resources you need. Join online support communities that are specific to infertility, just as you joined this PCOS-specific community. Make a plan – give yourself some general timeframes and budgets for what you are willing to do.

With luck, planning, focus, and support, you may well be able to achieve the family you’ve been dreaming of, in spite of infertility.

Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D. is a Health Psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California. She has completed the inCYST training. She specializes in counseling women and couples who are coping with infertility, PCOS, and related endocrine disorders and chronic illnesses.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. HOUSE or her practice, or obtain referrals in the Los Angeles area, please visit her website at, or e-mail her at You can also follow her on Twitter @askdrhousemd.

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