Infertility is a serious issue impacting many couples. The inability to conceive a child can create stress levels much like those seen individuals with chronic pain, HIV infection and cancer. It can be compounded by well-meaning people who advise the couple to stop being so anxious and let things happen naturally. Results from recent research have shown anxiety is not the root of infertility issues, so being told to relax does not help.
Dealing with infertility brings on many intense emotions, which is completely normal. Some of the feelings may include:
- Jealousy and anger toward people who did not have to struggle to become parents.
- Shame over being unable to have a biological child. This happens equally in both men and women.
- Denial of the problem by hoping for a positive pregnancy test result and being angry, sad or shocked when it does not happen.
- Feeling out-of-control and realizing fertility treatment does not guarantee a child.
Lack of fertility also takes a toll on a couple's relationship making it more likely the couple will consider themselves unhappy. This can lead to sexual tension, as sex will seem more like work than a way to express love. Costly fertility medications and treatment can cause a couple to argue about finances. One or both parties may fear abandonment of the relationship over the issue.
Utilizing some coping techniques can help a couple smooth out the emotional aspects of infertility. These can include:
- Talking things out with the partner. Communication should not shut down despite the difficulties. It should be noted that women and men deal with stress in different ways, and this should be considered when talking.
- Acknowledge the negative and stressful feelings and seek support. It is always better to express emotions than hold them in, and getting involved with a support group can make the process easier.
- Do not let the issue take over. A couple should find other topics of discussion and activities to enjoy. Sex should be spontaneous, fun and romantic and not just about making babies. Being grateful helps to keep things in perspective.
- Seek professional help if feeling overwhelmed. This can be done on a couple or individual basis. Aside from reducing stress an anxiety, it is a requirement prior to and during fertility treatment.