Emotional Impact of Infertility - Phase One

Without a doubt, infertility will change a person's life, affecting every area from self-esteem, plans and dreams and hopes, all the way to personal relationships with everyone from friends and family to your significant other. While the physical aspects are real and challenging - and where most attention is paid - the emotional impact of infertility takes an overwhelming toll on a couple.

Feeling Isolated by Infertility

Infertility is a very personal and intimate issue and as a result, many couples are reticent to disclose their situation to anybody. Consequently, when pressure and questions come up asking, "When are you going to start having children?" a couple may find themselves retreating and avoiding comment and interaction. Isolation and the attendant feelings cause intense suffering, yet, the fact is that about 15 percent of all married couples experience infertility and all the feelings that go along with it.

The Emotional Stages of Infertility

There are emotional stages that go along with infertility and there are also strategies which can help a couple cope with their feelings and come to some resolve. Time, patience, education and support can gradually lead a couple to coming to terms with their infertility.

First the Questions...

Most couples figure that once they've decided to start a family it's all downhill from there. They assume it is a "done deal" and then, when cycle after cycle comes and goes without a pregnancy their world begins to change. Suddenly, those who were in total control of their lives feel the loss of control and the associated panic and fear that comes with it. As the shock and pain of not being able to conceive when they want to sets in, the questions come fast and hard. What if they can never have children? Are they sterile? What is the problem? Who is the problem?

...Then the Realizations

These questions unearth a wide array of emotions. Usually the woman figures it out first . The man may need to be convinced that the problem could require medical attention and may be resistant. Then the feelings begin to rise. Feelings of frustration, anger, blame, guilt, self-pity and jealousy surface and if there are any disagreements in the relationship, they are blown out of proportion.

Communication, Communication, Communication

What can a couple do if this happens? Communication is the key to understanding. Talking with others who have had similar problems removes the isolation that thinking you are the only ones with the problem. Each problem is different and each situation is unique, and that should be recognized. If you are over 35 years of age and have been trying for six months, or under 35 and have been trying for a year, then it is wise to see a doctor about the situation. It is not uncommon for couples to experience different feelings about infertility, so be prepared for a difference of opinion. Fear, anxiety or even relief may be experienced when you do reach for medical help.

It is not uncommon to feel anger toward your partner. Things aren't going as planned and it's hard. However, communication with one another is critical to getting through intact. Deal with frustration by doing something positive and proactive together and remember that dealing with the issue early provides the greatest opportunity for resolution.

Looking for Answers - Having Help

This is a trying period, but looking for and finding answers is important and having a good doctor to help can be very reassuring.


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