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Infertility  Emotion

Emotional Aspects of Infertility

The desire to have children and be parents is one of the most essential aspects of being human. Prolonged inability to conceive a child can evoke feelings of loss and life crises. A multitude of medical procedures, decisions and uncertainties can be overwhelming for most people. 

Infertility is a medical condition that relates to many aspects of your life. It may affect your feelings about yourself and others around you, plans for the future, relationships with friends, family and even spouse. A lot of times, attention is focused on the physical aspects of infertility and  the emotional aspects often are not addressed. Emotional ups and downs relating to medical treatment, the uncertainty about outcomes and the challenge of having to make important decisions is a very central aspect of infertility.

If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, or isolated, you are not alone. It is estimated, that 15% of all married couples experience infertility with all the feelings and frustrations that go with it. A sense of loss and disappointment, the feeling of emotions and events being out of control is common for these couples.

It is very important to know how to deal with such feelings, take care of yourself, know how and where to get support, how to manage emotions and remain as positive as possible. Even if your mind isn't intentionally thinking about iyour nfertility issue, your conscious mind and your body may be reacting to feelings of grief.

Support from family, friends, medical caregivers and professional counselors can be very helpful. You may benefit from professional counseling if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms over a prolonged period of time:

  • Persistent feeling of sadness, guilt, anger
  • Lack of energy
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Increased mood swings
  • Constant preoccupation with infertility
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs
  • A change in appetitive, weight or sleep patterns
  • Thoughts about suicide or defeat

  • Tense interpersonal relationships

Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordable Infertility tests. Treatment can be physically, emotionally and financially stressful. Doctors appointments for infertility treatment can cause missing work hours or other activities.

 Support can come from many different areas: books, support groups and meetings, individual and couples counseling, discussion with family members and friends. Everyone has feelings and emotional ups and downs as they follow infertility treatment. Feeling overwhelmed at times is a perfectly normal response.


Coping Strategies

While stress does not cause infertility, infertility certainly causes stress. Effects of infertility can interfere with work, family, money and sex.  Respond to the problem early.

Early response can increase your chances for a successful outcome. The earlier the problem is identified, that sooner you can start your treatment program. Discuss with your partner, family and friends. The best support typically comes from loved ones and those closest to you. Finding ways to reduce stress, tension and anxiety can make you feel better. You can take the following steps:

  •   Talk about your feelings  with other people who experience infertility, through individual or couple counseling or support groups - before and after treatment. Blogs and Internet support groups are also very useful.
  • Tell your partner how you want to be helped
  • Read books on infertility
  • Learn stress reduction techniques
  • Avoid too much caffeine and stimulants
  • Exercise regularly
  • Have the medical treatment plan you and your partner are most comfortable with
  • Learn as much as you can about the cause of your infertility and treatment options. One of the worst parts of infertility is uncertainty about the future. Collecting information will help you to minimize doubts.
  •  Determine alternatives: adoption, donor sperm or egg, surrogacy
  • Make financial plans regarding your fertility treatment, costs can add up and are often not covered by insurance companies
  • Decide in advance how many and what kind of procedures are emotionally and financially acceptable for you and your partner

Emotional Effect of the Outcome

Whatever the result of your fertility treatment is, you'll face the likelihood of psychological challenges. Seek professional help if the emotional impact of any of these outcomes becomes too heavy for you or your partner:

Failure. The emotional stress of failure can be overwhelming even on the most loving and affectionate relationships. Common emotional responses consist of anger, guilt, shock, self-esteem problems, sexual problems and marital problems.

Success. Even if the fertility treatment is successful, it's common to experience stress during pregnancy. People who have a history of depression are at increased risk of these problems recurring in the months after the child's birth.

Multiple births. A successful pregnancy that results in multiple births bring in new medical complexities and the probability of considerable emotional stress both during pregnancy and after delivery.

Psychological treatment can help cope with infertility

Getting support from a mental health professional can sometimes be a very wise decision. You can discuss your options and feelings with a professional that can assist with decision making. Consider consultation with a mental health professional if you and your partner are:

  • deciding between various treatment options
  • exploring other family building options
  • considering third party assistance (gamete donation, surrogacy)
  • having difficulty communicating

Mental health professionals with experience in infertility treatment can be very helpful. They assist individuals and couples learn how to cope with the physical and emotional changes associated with infertility, as well as with the medical treatments that can be painful and disturbing. They teach how to deal with a partner's response, how to choose the right medical treatment and options, control stress, anxiety and depression, sort out feelings, strengthen coping skills and develop new ones. Whether it's improving your mood or improving your relationship with your partner, a psychologist can help you by using different psychotherapy techniques, including personal interviews, questionnaires and role playing.  A Psychologist can help you to understand your emotions, anxieties, fears. They can provide you with specific ways in which to manage your emotions and change your behavior in ways that are healthy for you.

Make sure you choose a mental health professional who is familiar with the emotional experience of infertility. Ask them for their credentials and their experience with infertility issues and treatments.

Coping with infertility can be difficult. You can't fully predict how long it will last or what the outcome will be. The emotional load on a couple is considerable, and plans for coping can help. With time, patience, support and knowledge, most people eventually come to terms with their infertility.

Each individual is unique. We all have our ways to cope with stress, change and uncertainty. Try to develop your coping mechanisms and remember that support and accurate information are critical for your success.




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