Infertility can cause emotional upheaval for you as an individual and create stress in your relationship. Although infertility is a major life crisis for nearly 1 in every 8 couples (Resolve 2013), many couples struggle with their emotions privately.
Common emotions surrounding infertility center on loss.
- Loss of being pregnant and having a birth experience
- Loss of genetic legacy and having a biological child
- Loss of a parent experience
- Loss of a grandparent relationship in the future
- Loss of control over your body and the effectiveness of infertility treatments
- Loss of self-esteem
Other common feelings include (About Fertility 2012):
- Anger: You may feel angry and jealous at those who have children, particularly those who conceived on accident or without difficulty.
- Shame: Our culture places emphasis on a couple’s ability to have a child. Men may feel less masculine and women may feel less feminine if they are not able to conceive.
- Strained relationships: Infertility can cause stress in your relationship with your partner. The stress may come in the form of sexual tension as sex begins to feel more like a chore than an expression of love. The financial stress of fertility treatment costs can quickly add up. A couple may argue about treatment options and when to stop seeking treatment. The partner with the infertility may fear that the other will leave.
There are many effective strategies for coping with the feelings surrounding infertility.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Giving voice to your feelings and fears will allow you to begin to process them. Some people find joining a support group helpful while others feel more comfortable writing a blog or keeping a journal.
- Stay connected with your partner. Because infertility can place a lot of stress on a relationship, it’s important to stay emotionally connected with your partner. Make time to do things together that you both find enjoyable. Talk about your feelings together, but recognize that men and women process their feelings differently. Try to keep sex fun by lighting candles, sharing in a massage, or whatever makes you both feel good.
- Don’t let infertility consume you. Thoughts about infertility and treatments may begin to take over. Be sure to continue your hobbies and take some time every day to do something you enjoy. Talk about things other than infertility with your partner, family, and friends.
If you feel yourself not sleeping well or sleeping too much, feeling overly sad or anxious, feeling isolated, or consumed with thoughts about death or dying, please contact your doctor and seek professional counseling.
About Fertility. Coping with Infertility. 4 June 2012.
Resolve: The National Infertility Association. Hidden No More: The Hidden Emotions of Infertility. 2013.