Infertility isn’t just about low sperm counts, blocked fallopian tubes, irregular ovulation, and whether or not the man wears briefs or boxers. Infertility is about real people struggling from month to month, riding a violent roller coaster of hope, anticipation, and disappointment.
Successfully coping with infertility means identifying and working through the feelings that come with it. Here are some of the emotional aspects infertility brings with it:
- A sense of loss. Every time a negative pregnancy test screams “NO!” at a couple, they experience a sense of loss. The same goes for couples who experience one or more miscarriages. The difference between infertility and losing a loved one is that this sense of loss repeats itself again and again. There’s no time to cope and move forward; it becomes a constant experience of loss.
- A feeling of coldness or denial. After a few months of trying to get pregnant, it’s easy to turn cold or simply deny what’s happening. A blind optimism that says “It will work over next month” puts a couple in a dangerous situation. When they should be seeking answers, instead they keep doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different result.
- Rage and anger. Infertility can make you feel helpless. Nothing you seem to do will make a difference. This runs contrary to most of our experiences in life: if you work hard at something, eventually you succeed. Not succeeding makes us angry. You might get angry at God, the universe, your partner and even yourself.
- Guilt. Just because the days when a queen could be beheaded because she couldn’t produce a child are gone doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of guilt to go around. Infertility can make you feel like less of a man or less of a woman. It makes you feel ashamed, like you’ve failed at the most important task in your life.
- Despair. The infertility roller-coaster isn’t a fun ride. It’s emotionally exhausting. After a few months or maybe a year, despair begins to set in. You start to think, “well, maybe it just isn’t meant to be.” You get to the point where it seems like it’s no longer worth trying. The problem, of course, is that many couples stop here without even talking to a doctor about the problem.
In many cases, infertility can be addressed by something as simple as two or three months of taking a fertility medication like Clomid. In other cases, it might mean a minor surgical procedure for the man or the woman.
Don’t let the emotions of infertility create a downward spiral. If left unchecked, they can destroy your self-image, your relationship with your partner and they can even prevent you from seeking out the help and advice that could help you get pregnant.
For many couples, infertility is a challenge that can be overcome, with the right help.