The Emotional Aspects of Infertility
Infertility can be a life-changing event, damaging your self-esteem, and forever altering your plans and dreams for the future. Your relationship with your spouse as well as your relationships with friends and other family members can all be greatly affected by your infertility. The focus of infertility is generally on the physical aspect, leaving your wide range of emotions ignored and untreated. Most people who have not personally undergone the issues of infertility will not fully realize how overwhelming it can be, and because infertility is somewhat of a private issue, many women and couples are reluctant to share their experiences openly. If you are part of a family who make a habit of asking "when are you having children," you may end up being even more frustrated, leading you to pull away into virtual isolation. When a woman acknowledges she may never be able to have a baby, it can be a very frightening realization for her, bringing on emotions she has never felt before.
Typical Emotions Following Acknowledgement
Women are often the first half of the couple to realize there is a fertility problem, and often the male may need to be convinced that medical intervention is necessary. Both the woman and the man in the couple may begin to have feelings of frustration, anger, guilt, denial, blame, self-pity, and even jealousy toward those couples who have no trouble getting pregnant. Any issues or disagreements which were already a part of the marriage may become increasingly magnified as the acknowledgement of infertility truly sinks in. There may be a sense of loss of control if you are undergoing infertility tests or treatments as your day-to-day routines are now scheduled around your menstrual cycle and doctors' appointments. You may feel disappointment in your own body, and wonder why this happened to you, specifically. Even if your sex life with your partner was once spontaneous and fun, it may now feel only technical and cold. You may feel the need for secrecy along with a general unwillingness to share your infertility trials with others, and may even find it difficult to communicate your feelings regarding your infertility to your spouse and close friends. Many find it difficult to deal with the lack of privacy in their lives, as most infertility testing is rather invasive.
Coping With Your Emotions Regarding Infertility
While it can be very difficult, you should try to communicate with others who have had difficulty conceiving in order to realize you are not alone. You should also be very prepared to find that your feelings regarding the infertility are not the same as your partner's feelings, and that you may go through the emotional stages at widely different times and in different ways. While it is hard not to become totally consumed with infertility issues, try your best to redirect your focus to more positive things-get back into a favorite hobby, or start a new activity to keep your mind occupied. Some women come to a point of acceptance once they realize they are unable to change or control certain aspects of their life, and some even find a much stronger feeling of closeness with their partner. Acknowledge your particular emotions as valid, then do your best to cope with the fallout of infertility.
Remember that responding early to a perceived problem with fertility can greatly increase your chances for a successful outcome, so see a physician soon after you suspect you may have fertility issues. This prompt response gives your doctor a much greater chance of finding a successful treatment program. Educate yourself by reading and learning as much as you possibly can about infertility. Try to communicate your fears and emotions-good or bad-to your partner on a regular basis, and do your best to support one another, understanding this is a stressful time for you both. Understand that you will have periods of depression, so get the support you need, whether through a support group, a trusted friend or supportive family member. As much as possible, go to doctor's appointments together so you will both understand the tests and procedures and can ask questions. Infertility can be a difficult and potentially traumatic time for both partners; you should do your best to approach infertility as a team, with full commitment from both partners.