Infertility is an undesirable disorder shared by 1 in 6 couples, therefore you are not alone!
Infertility is usually diagnosed after one year of unsuccessful attempts of conception. You may suspect that you have a fertility problem, but the reality of it is often difficult to accept. Although many infertile couples are successful in having children with the help of today’s advanced reproductive technologies or through adoption, being diagnosed with a fertility problem is quite daunting and distressing.
Everyone’s response to infertility is different and depends upon individual situations, personalities, and coping styles. Nevertheless, an initial shock and disappointment is a natural and inevitable reaction in such cases. You will probably experience its emotional impact at different stages, before, during and after treatment. Some may experience feelings of denial, anger, hopelessness, loss of self-control, isolation or even depression.
Effects of infertility on the couple
It is important to remember that infertility is a shared problem between the couple. In fact, factors causing infertility are often present in both partners, rather than just one partner. Whatever the case, partners usually respond differently to infertility. You may feel hopeful and optimistic while your partner feels hopeless and despondent, or you may blame each other, especially when only one partner is infertile.
Response to infertility is sex-specific with distinct differences between the two sexes. Most infertile women tend to have a heightened awareness of their menstrual cycles. As a result, the beginning of each menstrual cycle can be emotionally traumatic. It signals the absence of a pregnancy after a month of hope and the need of an additional attempt. Men may silently suffer the emotional impact of infertility either as a display of stoicism or because they are not accustomed to sharing these types of concerns in contrast to their female partners.
Infertility also attacks the relationship itself. Therefore, you must strive not to lose sight of your relationship with your partner. Both partners must be willing to invest an effort to support each other throughout the treatment. You must try to promote communication via discussion between each other to ensure that you understand how your partner feels about each stage of treatment. Sex is another way to improve or maintain the relationship although the demands of the treatment will undoubtedly affect your sex life. Therefore, special priority should be given to intimacy and conversation of whatever works for each couple in order to aid the procedure ensuring minimal disturbance to your life.
There are specific steps that can decrease the stress of infertility:
- First, remember that you and your partner are different people, with different styles and feelings. You cannot expect your partner to behave or feel a certain way or that you will both feel the same way simultaneously.
- Become informed about infertility and its treatment. Begin by learning about your body and how it works. Supply yourself with as much information as you feel you can handle. Read books and articles about infertility, ask questions, and discuss your ideas with us.
- It is essential to share your feelings when dealing with infertility. Friendships are especially important at this time. However, friends and family may not fully understand infertility and they may make insensitive remarks.
Many people will not realize what you’re experiencing unless you tell them. If friends make thoughtless comments, try not to become discouraged. Some of the following tips may be helpful:
- Try to identify your feelings and share them. Writing your thoughts down on paper is often a helpful exercise. Don’t assume that everyone understands your needs, thoughts, and feelings. Don’t always put on a brave front. Friends and family may think that you are not distressed and therefore not in need of emotional support. Tell friends or family members what does and does not help you.
- Βecome aware of your own anger. This anger may be directed toward you, your partner, medical caregivers, friends, and family. It is important to recognize the effect anger has on you and your ability to communicate with others. Accept your own feelings. Acknowledge that there may be times when it is okay for you to avoid emotionally painful situations such as baby showers and birthday parties.
- You and your partner should set limits during treatment to help you feel more in control, diminish stress, and define your goals more clearly. Decide which treatments you will try and when to stop if unsuccessful.
- Consider taking a break if medical therapy becomes too stressful. A break from treatment can give you opportunity to regain strength, reassess expectations, and possibly explore alternatives.
- Do not let infertility take over your life and become an obsession. It can feel like an emotional roller coaster and we can help you negotiate the ride. You and your partner surely have other matters to attend to and stress and depression should not be allowed to affect your relationship, bring you down emotionally and deprive you from enjoying life.
- Counseling can help you examine your feelings and address the losses and grief associated with infertility. Through counseling you can clarify your priorities, find ways to renew self-esteem, and improve your coping skills. The psychologist of the center is also available to offer his services.