The Initial Shock Of Infertility

Shock, Shame And Pain

Infertility is a life changing experience for a couple. Every aspect of life is touched, from the physical to the emotional. Self-esteem, relationships with friends and family and even their partner, as well as hopes, dreams and plans for the future are affected. Since most of the attention in cases of infertility focus on the physical, often times the emotional challenges are pushed to the back.

It is often difficult for a couple to talk about their infertility issues, especially since it is such a private matter. They are hesitant to share with friends and family and the "dance of avoidance" when it comes to answering questions about starting a family can drive a wedge into relationships. Feelings of isolation and emotional suffering can result. However, the fact of the matter is that 15 percent of all married couples experience infertility and all of the emotions that go along with it.

The Questions Begin...

Once the initial shock of realizing they cannot conceive has worn off, the frightening questions begin to crop up. What if we can never have children? Are we sterile? What's the problem? Is it you? Is it I? All of these and more can plague the mind of a couple and it is normal for them to experience a wide range of emotions before they actually come to grips with the fact they could have a problem with fertility.

Often the woman is the first one to realize there is a problem and the man likely will need some medical proof before he is convinced. A very real grieving process begins to take place as the couple moves through frustration, anger, denial, guilt, blame, self-pity, and jealousy. Marital conflict may become quite intense as emotions rage.

Coping Strategies Are Necessary

In order to cope with these emotions it is important for a couple to begin to talk about their situation. Connecting with other couples who have experienced the same thing helps the couple realize that they are not alone. It is important to understand that not everyone is the same and the situations will differ. It may be appropriate to make an appointment with a specialist to discuss things and begin a plan of action. Feelings will differ between the couple at various stages of the process. Since the primary emotions at this time are anger and frustration, it is important to avoid becoming consumed with the negative emotions and keep the doors of communication open.

By responding to the situation early, rather than avoiding the truth by putting things off, a couple can increase their chances for a successful outcome. Early identification of the problem means the doctor can get the couple onto a program of treatment sooner rather than later.

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