How to Deal With the Pain of Infertility
Always remember you’re not alone
Infertility can be devastating for individuals and couples. It often leads to a host of emotions including anger, shame, and resentment. Not only does it hurt the person trying to carry a baby, but if you’re part of a couple, it can greatly impact the relationship.
Always remember that you’re not alone when dealing with infertility. There are doctors, therapists, and other people going through the same thing that you can turn to. We will explain how infertility can affect a relationship and four ways to cope with the pain of going through it.
How infertility can affect a relationship
Infertility can affect both men and women. At times, the root cause of a couples’ conception challenges remains unclear. Whether one party is experiencing it or it’s a result of undetermined causes, it can affect the individual as well as the relationship as a whole.
When a couple is experiencing infertility, one or both parties may feel ashamed, guilty, or angry. Women especially may experience feelings of unworthiness. They may wonder why this is happening to them and even question whether they are fit to be a parent. It can be a traumatizing situation.
It’s not just women who suffer from the psychological effects of infertility. Research shows that men are at risk for anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction. For women, the emotional stress of coping with infertility is similar to the stress of coping with a serious illness such as cancer or HIV.
Ways to cope with infertility
1. Be honest about your feelings
It’s important to acknowledge your true feelings both with yourself and your partner. Anger, guilt, resentment, fear, and anxiety are all normal emotions to have when facing major life challenges such as infertility. If you and your partner have undergone invasive fertility testing and treatment, there may be feelings of resentment towards the situation or even the other person. You might feel angry that you’re having to go through this or worried about the future. Other common emotions include the fear of being judged by others, feelings of failure, inadequacy, and jealousy.
2. Take care of yourself and your relationship
Have compassion for yourself when dealing with stressful situations such as this. Emotional stress can affect our hormones, energy levels, and sleep patterns. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, getting as much sleep as your body needs, and staying active.
Once you’ve got a solid self-care routine, be sure to make time to connect with your partner. Both parties are likely to be deeply affected by this, so connecting during this time is essential and may require more effort than usual.
You might consider pursuing a new hobby together or making a list of potential things you’d like to try or places you’d like to explore as a couple. Connection also includes physical intimacy which sometimes suffers in the midst of infertility pain. If that’s the case, rekindling the spark could go a long way in terms of seeing your partnership through this stressful time.
3. Consider counseling
Both individual and couples counseling can be very beneficial when it comes to dealing with the stress of this painful situation. Individuals might find counseling to be the only safe space where they can speak their true feelings and feel seen and heard without being judged.
Couples may have a hard time communicating with one another in the wake of fertility issues. Working with a professional therapist can help each partner get in touch with their emotions and express them healthily and respectfully. Infertility can lead to fear that one partner will leave and couples counseling can be a safe space in which to explore these feelings. And while communication is always important in a partnership, each person may have different communication needs. One person may want to talk more and the other less. Therapy can help you find a balance so each person feels their needs are being met.
4. Reach out to family and friends
In addition to professional counseling, it can be very helpful to reach out to family and friends for added support. You may even find that some people in your social circle are experiencing, or have experienced, similar challenges. Infertility is more common than you might think and chances are you’ve got friends or family members who have dealt with reproductive obstacles. Reaching out to people you trust can help you and your partner feel less alone.
Sometimes one partner may be more willing to open up to family and friends than the other. In these cases, counseling can help both partners communicate their needs and concerns to reach a resolution. Ideally, both partners will be on the same page when it comes to reaching out for support from your social network.
Seek therapy from Love Discovery to process your emotions
While infertility can be a frightening and stressful challenge, it need not spell the end of a relationship. Taking care of yourself, addressing obstacles in your relationship, and reaching out for support are all great ways to ensure that you and your partner come out on the other side as a stronger and more resilient couple.
Make an appointment with one of our therapists at Love Discovery Institute. We offer therapy specifically for infertility, as well as individual and couple’s therapy.