The struggle with infertility can affect all aspects of people's lives. It is critical to develop coping strategies to ensure that an individual and a couple’s relationship remains intact and continues to maintain a positive sense of themselves. The journey during treatments for infertility can be all encompassing and result in a sense of grief and loss which can be devastating. Determine if psychology services may be appropriate for you if you struggle with infertility.
Individuals dreams of having a child can exist many years before someone may feel ready to take the journey towards parenting. When attempts to conceive are unsuccessful, it can often result in depression, resentment, anger, and a sense of isolation and couples struggling with infertility are faced with the loss of the closely held dreams, and maybe coping with a new future without the benefit of having a child of their own
Nothing in life prepares someone for the struggles of infertility. We tend to approach adulthood with the full expectation of being able to conceive and bear children, usually without difficulty or complication. As attempts to conceive occur month after month, it is not unusual to wonder “Is it me? “, and/or, “Why us?”.
You are not alone in this struggle. The pursuit of a successful pregnancy can become all encompassing, overwhelming and taxing not only emotionally, but physically, and financially. An inability to give up the dream often leads to many years of evaluations, procedures, medications, and interventions. Individuals need to guard against seeing themselves as being punished, or faced with a life less desirable. They also have to decide between them how far they are willing to go in a continued effort to have a biological child of their own. Doctors can present many options to conceive. However, deciding what is best can be a very difficult task.
Infertility affects both men and women. Infertility can impact a couple’s relationship as well as relationships with all others in their lives. How each partner copes with any diagnosis related to infertility, either their own, or their spouse’s, often predicts the couple’s ability to work through the struggle with their relationship intact and healthy. Maintaining relationships with friends with children, and dealing with family members who may be well meaning but insensitive, is a common conflict.
Benefits of counseling during this trying time in your life can be many.
For the individual,
It is important to learn how to express feelings and reactions to reproductive loss. Self blame, anger, depression and difficulty with acceptance during this time can easily infiltrate all aspects of life. Infertility is a condition to be addressed, and does not define anyone personally or decrease self-worth. Fighting against a negative self-image is critical to warding off the development of more serious emotional distress such as depression and anxiety.
For the couple,
Learning how to talk to one another is crucial. Discussing each phase of the process and deciding together what paths are feasible is critical to ensuring that the relationship stays intact. Learning to care for one another physically, spiritually, and emotionally in this time of fragile emotions will greatly improve a positive future regardless of parenting. Intimacy often suffers when trying to conceive, with a couple’s sexual relationship required to be more calculated rather than spontaneous. Addressing the need to reestablish the parameters of a couple’s sexual relationship is often a focus of therapy.
In your community,
Learning how to cope with others needs to be reinforced. Pictures of parents, babies, and families are everywhere you look. Isolating from friends and family in an attempt to avoid reminders of reproductive losses tends to exacerbate feelings of loss. Developing appropriate methods to discuss your journey, and respond to the curiosity of others is a frequent focus of therapy sessions. Most of the time, those around are attempting to be supportive; however, those efforts can lead to verbalizing opinions which contradict yours, or advice which you do not intent to follow. A perceived lack of support for your difficulties can be just as difficult to experience. Grieving the loss of a dream is painful, and a lack of empathy for your loss can make coping even more painful.
Seeking help can help you achieving the goals of redefining yourself, reestablishing yourselves as a couple, and/or reintegrating into your community, despite infertility.