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Staying Positive When the Test Is Negative

Don't catastrophize. Tips on how to cope with a negative test result.

Keeping your hopes high when they keep getting dashed by negative tests is hard. It's normal to feel stressed, depressed and guilty when you get a diagnosis that involves infertility circumstances. Here are some other suggestions to help you cope:

  • Give yourself time to grieve. It may not feel good, but it will allow you to work through, and possibly let go of, some of the pain and stress.
  • Have a plan. Before starting any attempt to conceive, decide how long you'll try before you'll "allow" yourself to become concerned. (The definition of 'infertility' is failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months of trying, or six months if you're over age 35.) If you're about to begin fertility treatments, sit down ahead of time and decide how long you'll keep going and what your next steps will (or won't) be.
  • Think about your goals. "What does parenthood mean to you?" asks Domar. "What is necessary? (Is it pregnancy?) What is not? (Does it matter if the kid has your nose?)"
  • Take a break. If it's all getting to be too much, give yourself a couple of months to breathe and regroup.
  • Seek support. Organizations such as RESOLVE ( sponsor in-person and online support groups for those having fertility problems.
  • Don't "catastrophize." One negative test doesn't mean you'll never get pregnant. Approach each cycle with hope and optimism.
  • Don't give up your life while trying to create one. Keep doing those things you used to love to do. Knit, write a novel, hike a mountain. And have sex even when it doesn't "count," says psychologist William Petok. "It's a pleasure that doesn't cost you anything. And you don't want to lose the pleasure part."