The fertility process can be one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Whether it’s trying to conceive after a previous pregnancy loss, trying to get pregnant for months or years, or managing a medical condition that affects fertility, the process can be draining and unsettling. Although women and their partners may do their very best to be positive and hopeful, the stresses and challenges of the process leave many feeling out of control, disappointed and ashamed. These stresses can impact mental health and well-being, and can also have negative impacts on relationships. Same-sex couples or single people often face additional barriers during the fertility process. And on a biological level, the hormone treatments prescribed to help support pregnancy may lead to feelings of depression, irritability and anxiety.
At BRIA, we understand the complex challenges and stresses of the fertility journey and its impact on mental health. We have created inclusive, comprehensive, compassionate mental health services to support you and treat your mental health struggles as you navigate this experience.
BRIA clinicians have many years of experience treating people going through the fertility journey and will provide evidence-based treatments with compassion and empathy. We also offer couples therapy and reproductive consultation services by expert mental health professionals.
Get a personalised Care Plan
Start therapy or other services
Get additional MD services, if required
Track mental health symptoms to see progress
We all face challenges, and it’s ok to ask for help. BRIA can support you on your fertility journey.
You may be worrying a lot and notice that your mind and body just won’t settle down.
Anxiety can refer to a range of symptoms from excessive worries to panic attacks. Sometimes anxiety is associated with physical symptoms such as chest tightness, diarrhea, shakes, or heart palpitations. Many women who are struggling to conceive have anxiety about the medicalization of the fertility process and they may try to over-plan things or focus on specific routines that they think will bring them comfort. Some have ruminations: repetitive, unwanted thoughts or images. These can be hard to control and bothersome. It is normal to feel anxious before appointments, getting results, or a procedure, but anxiety becomes a concern when it takes over and interferes with pleasure, relationships, or daily functioning.
BRIA’s individual therapists can help you learn strategies to manage anxiety. In BRIA group therapy, you can connect with other women who have similar experiences and learn from our skilled group leaders. Mindful movement classes can also teach you new skills for coping with anxiety. Connecting with our Care Coordinator and completing a MINI Mental Health Assessment will help you understand how BRIA’s services can help you. If your symptoms of anxiety are interfering with your everyday life, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a more detailed MAXI Mental Health Assessment.
Feelings of sadness, despair, and hopelessness can be painful and consuming.
Stressful life events can often lead to feeling depressed. Depression is characterized by low mood, lack of interest, and hopelessness. Depression can also impact sleep, concentration, and energy levels; it is an illness that affects the mind and the body. When women are trying to conceive, symptoms of depression are often ignored in order to “forge ahead” and focus on conceiving. After suffering a perinatal loss, it may be difficult to differentiate between grief and depression. Depression can cause negative feelings about the present and the future, and make it hard for women to function at home, at work, or in their relationships.
You may find it very helpful to talk to one of our individual therapists about what you are going through, and explain your dark feelings. Our therapists are experts in helping women cope with the challenges of the fertility process and the grief of a perinatal loss. BRIA’s group therapy sessions will help you connect with other women who have similar experiences. Seeing that you are not alone can often ease the feelings of sadness. Connecting with our Care Coordinator and completing a MINI Mental Health Assessment will help you understand how BRIA’s services can help you. If your symptoms of depression are interfering with your everyday life, a BRIA Care Coordinator may suggest a more detailed MAXI Mental Health Assessment. If you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, this may indicate more severe depression, and you should get urgent care from your primary care provider, go to the nearest emergency department, or call the Canadian Suicide Hotline at 1-833-456-4566.
You may be feeling alone and out of sync with friends and family members.
The fertility journey can be very lonely. Some women may avoid socializing because they don’t want to see pregnant friends or family, and they don’t want to be asked about having a baby. They may feel that they can’t connect with friends who seem to be getting pregnant easily and having children. Often, women silently assume the responsibility of the fertility process and feel they need to hide their feelings so they don’t “burden” others. Relationships may be strained during this time, due to anger and resentment that partners are less involved with the process. Or, a person may be choosing to achieve parenthood on their own. It may feel like you are the only one struggling through this difficult journey – but you are not alone.
BRIA’s groups for people who are trying to conceive are a comfortable, inclusive and supportive place. In group therapy, women will make connections with others who understand their struggle. By coming together and supporting one another through the fertility process, many people feel empowered and supported. Couples therapy may also help you if you have a partner and want to learn how to communicate your need for support and empathy in a new way, so that you feel less alone through the fertility process. BRIA individual therapists are always available, if a one-to-one therapeutic connection seems best for you.
Many women feel intense anger and other strong emotions and are not sure what to do about them.
Rage, frustration, irritability — you name it, women experience it. Anger is often a secondary emotion and is really a manifestation of sadness, grief, helplessness or anxiety. Women who are trying to conceive may feel angry that it’s such a difficult process and that it seems so “easy” for others. Sometimes hormone treatments for fertility can be associated with irritability. Insomnia can also lead to anger or rage. You may feel ashamed that your emotions are getting the best of you, but this is usually a sign that something deeper is going on and you need supportive help.
Talking to a BRIA individual therapist can help you process your feelings during such a stressful time. If you have a partner and find that your relationship is suffering, a BRIA couples therapist can help you and your partner with better communication to diffuse the anger. In addition, mindfulness meditation and movement classes can allow you to channel strong feelings and release them.
Guilt, self-blame, and doubt lead to an endless loop of negativity and can be paralyzing.
Many women who are trying to conceive feel intense disappointment that their bodies need help to conceive and they blame themselves for needing fertility support. They often criticize every choice or action they have ever taken— from past drug use to terminating previous pregnancies— this pattern can spiral into obsessive thoughts and feelings of despair.
BRIA’s individual therapists can help you address guilt and self-blame, and develop acceptance for a more peaceful state of mind. Connecting you to others through group therapy sessions may also help – you will connect with other women and learn strategies to reduce the negative thought loops.
Waiting for results and not knowing how your body will respond can be frightening.
When women have difficulty conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy, the supposed “natural” process of having a child becomes medicalized. It is very scary entering into the world of fertility where there are so many unknowns – from new treatment terminology, complex medical procedures, to waiting for results. This is especially true if you’ve had recurrent disappointments or a previous loss. And while trying to conceive, many women enter internet “black holes” where they stumble into reading about catastrophic scenarios, which only worsens the fear.
BRIA group therapy is a great place to start, so that you can feel connected with other women. You will feel less alone and learn how to manage your fear throughout the overwhelming experience that the fertility process can be. You can also connect with an individual therapist who specializes in helping women through the fertility journey, and who will compassionately listen, answer your questions, and support you.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential, but often difficult to achieve during stressful times.
Insomnia is a continuous negative feedback loop; sleep is required to cope with difficult situations, but external stressors can interfere with sleep. People with insomnia often dread going to bed, worry that they won’t be able to sleep, obsess about not functioning well the next day, toss and turn throughout the night, and the vicious cycle continues. In addition, anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns can all interfere with quality sleep. Waking up with worrying thoughts is often difficult to control and makes your day feel long, overwhelming, and exhausting. Whether it’s from hormone therapy or the implicitly stressful nature of trying to conceive, women undergoing fertility treatments often develop insomnia.
At BRIA, we can help treat insomnia. Our sleep consultant can offer expert guidance to get you to a better place. Mindful Movement classes can teach you helpful strategies to get more sleep. We may also recommend a more comprehensive MAXI Mental Health Assessment to determine if you are struggling with a significant underlying mental health issue that can impact your sleep — then we will focus on treating this specific issue.
Side effects from hormone treatments can greatly impact your physical and mental health.
Going through the fertility journey can wreak havoc on your physical well-being. From treatment side effects to recurrent blood tests and ultrasounds, you may feel like your body is being mistreated. The time and energy spent going to appointments and following a treatment plan may leave little interest in regular activities; eating well, exercising and self-care may not be as important as it once was. And the prescribed hormones may be associated with severe discomfort, insomnia, fatigue, mood swings and irritability, worsening the rollercoaster ride of trying to conceive.
BRIA clinicians can help you manage the consequences of fertility treatments. By working with a dietitian to maintain healthy eating and lifestyle routines, you may find that you have more energy and motivation for self-care and pleasurable activities. Our sleep experts can help with insomnia issues such as trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. If you are feeling more depressed or anxious, particularly for those who are sensitive to hormone fluctuations, a MINI Mental Health Assessment can offer a personalised Care Plan; this may include therapy suggestions or referral to a more in-depth diagnostic and treatment plan with a mental health professional and a psychiatrist.
1 in 5 Canadian women is struggling with a mental health problem today — you are not alone.
Start by taking BRIA’s quiz to understand your symptoms and stressors.
The BRIA MINI will provide you with a bespoke Care Plan.
When a BRIA Care Coordinator meets with you for a MINI Mental Health Assessment, she will learn about your symptoms, stressors, and struggles and will create a Care Plan just for you. Your Care Plan will outline which BRIA services may help you. The MINI is your starting point on your MD-designed journey with BRIA.
Our team of professional therapists can help you learn the tools you need to feel better.
People who are trying to conceive often find that therapy can help them cope with feelings of shame, failure, frustration, intense worry about the process and the future, as well as deep sadness. BRIA therapists are experts in mental health counselling for women who are going through the fertility journey, and have experience addressing many of the issues that commonly arise for people at this stage. BRIA also provides third party reproduction consultations and reports for those using donor sperm/eggs, donor embryos, or a gestational carrier in order to grow their family.
You and your partner can talk to a therapist to address conflict and communication issues.
During major life stresses or transition times, including when trying to get pregnant, people often find that their relationship with their partner takes a hit. The fertility journey can be a stressful time, and even the best relationships can suffer during this process, both emotionally and sexually. Plus, if a relationship was strained before the fertility journey began, it can worsen under stress. BRIA couples therapists can help you and your partner learn to communicate better, share your feelings, and help you develop the skills you need to navigate the ups and downs of your relationship at a particularly vulnerable time of life.
You will join people who are experiencing similar issues to openly share, receive support, and learn new skills.
People going through the fertility process often feel alone and out of sync with their friends, family, and peers. This isolation can be very painful. People find that group therapy is a safe place to be honest and open about their struggles and worries, and they feel much better when they connect with others. BRIA group leaders will always discuss confidentiality and privacy matters to ensure that they are respected. All BRIA group leaders are experienced mental health clinicians who are skilled at supporting women, educating them, and running groups on a virtual platform.
The MAXI offers an in-depth assessment, diagnostic, and treatment plan by a mental health professional and an MD Psychiatrist.
If our Care Coordinator recommends further mental health evaluation after your MINI, you will be referred to the MAXI Mental Health Assessment. This is a comprehensive mental health assessment by a mental health professional and an MD Psychiatrist. In the MAXI, you may get medication recommendations. When trying to conceive, women often have questions about medication safety for pregnancy and nursing. From antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, to sleep aids or ADHD medications, BRIA psychiatrists can provide the answers for your specific medication needs. We will discuss a full Care Plan to address your concerns. A BRIA MD Psychiatrist will also provide follow-up to ensure that your medication is helpful. Psychosocial and psychiatric formal reports will be created for you and your primary care provider.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical for mental health and well-being. We can assess sleep issues and get you much needed night time rest.
At BRIA, we know sleep is crucial. We also know how many women struggle with insomnia, especially throughout the fertility process. This is why we have brought together a team of sleep experts to help. A BRIA sleep consultant will assess your sleep patterns, create a sleep plan just for you, and help you implement that plan effectively.
Expert support and non-judgemental guidance is essential for those undergoing third-party reproduction or conception.
“Third party reproduction” or “third party conception” are the terms used when an individual client or couple uses donor sperm, donor eggs, donor embryos, or a gestational carrier (surrogacy) in order to grow their family. BRIA offers “implications counselling” for those pursuing third-party reproduction. Within Ontario, implications counselling is considered best practice for clients prior to beginning these procedures, so clients can be fully informed about the social, legal, psychological, and ethical issues associated with using third-party reproduction. Our experienced fertility therapists will also provide individuals and couples with the opportunity to discuss any worries and concerns relating to their specific fertility journey.
BRIA has a team of multidisciplinary experts who can address your challenges when you are trying to get pregnant.
Whether you are struggling with eating nutritiously, need support managing a stressful job, or want to learn relaxation and mindfulness skills, BRIA can help. We know that many factors affect your mental health, so we provide allied health professionals, including career consultants, registered dietitians, and a yoga and mindfulness instructor who can help you when you are trying to conceive. BRIA care providers are all women-focussed vetted experts to manage your complete mental health care and well-being. Stay tuned for webinars and “Ask the Expert” sessions with our BRIA team.
As experts in women’s mental healthcare, we understand that part of recovering from mental health struggles is learning about them. Knowledge improves awareness, reduces stigma, and helps everyone feel less ashamed.