Dealing with Infertility
The day has come- you’ve been trying and fretting for months, maybe even years, results are in and you have received a diagnosis. Maybe it’s PCOS, anovulation, endometriosis, or even unexplained, but the result is the same, infertility. So now what?
First of all, let’s be clear, infertility does not necessarily mean pregnancy is not possible. Infertility is simply defined as not becoming pregnant after one year of actively trying. Infertility affects about 15 percent of couples. Statistics state that about one-third of the cases can be traced back to the woman, one-third to the man, and one-third to either both or no cause can be found. Studies show that 50% of couples who do not conceive within the first year of trying will become pregnant the following year; about 35% of all couples diagnosed with infertility, who do not seek treatment, will become pregnant; and about 65%, who seek treatment, will conceive, depending on the diagnosis.
However, this does not stop the onslaught of emotions that can occur with the continued disappointment, stress, and sadness. Many also feel like “less of … (a male or female)” and conception is often tied into our views of man-ness or woman-ness, often leading to feelings of failure. Shock, anxiety and depression are also common. As is grief and processing the stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. Grief at how you thought getting pregnant would go, grief at the loss of excitement you felt when you first started trying, or grief as it pertains to the fun sex life you used to have.
Infertility is often hard on both the couple and on each individually. It is important during this time that you express your needs to your support system. This includes explaining to them that saying “just to relax” is not helpful. In fact, many report it does more harm than good. Talk to your partner about how each of you can provide loving, caring support for one another. Do not try to go it alone! Reach out to support groups, friends, and family, and therapists to aid you in this journey. Make sure that you feel comfortable with your doctor(s) and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Infertility is incredibly common, and you are not alone.
Written by: Jennifer Reeves, MA, LMFT, CST