If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for a year or more but have not yet planned, you are likely to have fertility problems. You may have already begun talking to your doctor about these challenges and your choices to become pregnant.
Most likely, your doctor will monitor all aspects of your physical health. But it's also important to take care of your emotional well-being. People who want to have a child but are struggling to get pregnant can experience a range of emotions, such as anger, frustration, sadness, and shame. If these emotions are not productively addressed, they can worsen and contribute to pain, resentment, or mental health problems, such as depression.
Infertility not only affects you and your partner separately, but also your relationship. Here, we will discuss the problems you can face as a couple if you are dealing with infertility and the ways you can deal with it. When difficulties are tackled in healthy ways, they are more likely to become stronger as partners as they grow older.
Social stigma around infertility
Finding out how common infertility surprises many people is. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12% of American women ages 15 to 44 find it difficult to become pregnant or struggling to deliver a pregnancy in the short term.
Once a couple gets married, it is often assumed that they will start trying to have a child. Of course, this assumption is wrong in more ways than one, but one key issue is the stigma that often arises. Your parents and friends may ask you questions. Social situations can get annoying if your friends don't seem to understand what you're going through. People may avoid inviting you to events such as a birthday party or baby shower. Even if they do so with good intentions, you may still end up feeling excluded.
It's important to experience your emotions as they come, but it's also important to avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Bad, self-directed or otherwise, can trap you in a painful cycle that leads to more discomfort.In the past, women took much of the responsibility for infertility. While it is known today that infertility may be due to male or female factors, women may still struggle with feelings of failure or shame. Men may experience similar pain but find it difficult to speak. In society as a whole, there may be a general feeling that couples without children are somewhat incomplete, a crisis that can make the discomfort of infertility even more painful.
In recent years, many celebrity couples have shared their experiences with infertility, including Michelle and Barack Obama. You may have talked about infertility with a loved one and felt the power and support of their reaction.
Infertility issues often feel like a private struggle. But reducing stigma could help more people feel comfortable talking about their own difficulties getting pregnant. People who do not feel ready to open can still be supported by the knowledge that they are not alone. Regardless of the factors that contributed to infertility, neither you nor your partner should feel ashamed.
Avoiding abuse and shame
Letting yourself experience grief is an important part of dealing with infertility. Even if you follow fertility treatments, facing the reality that pregnancy may not be possible, it can have a profound emotional impact. Grief and grief may be your first reaction.
Sometimes the cause of infertility cannot be determined. But finding out the problems of infertility come from you can lead to reduced self-esteem, depression and anxiety. If your partner is the one who is barren, you may feel frustrated. You may be struggling to avoid fading that it's their fault, not yours.
It's important to experience your emotions as they come, but it's also important to avoid blaming yourself or your partner. Bad, self-directed or otherwise, can trap you in a painful cycle that leads to more discomfort.
Counselors working with infertile couples recommend that you talk to your partner about how you feel, openly and honestly. This can be difficult when you are angry, but remember: You and your partner are a team and communication is essential in a good team. Even if you are angry, hurt or ashamed, it is usually best to talk about your emotions calmly, rather than waiting until they break out during an argument or a stressful moment. You may decide not to share your struggles with family and friends, but commit to be honest with each other.
Choosing other fertility options
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) helps many couples deal with fertility problems. When considering your options, it is important for you and your partner to agree on how long you will be receiving treatment, how much money you can spend, and what treatments you will try.
Have an honest discussion with your partner about the treatments that are bothering you before planning any procedures.Your insurance may not cover all (or any) costs of fertility treatments. Starting treatment with a financial limit can help you avoid yourself from experiencing financial difficulties by continuing indefinitely.
It is also useful to decide on the length of time you will try the treatment. ART may give you hope, but the treatments don't always work right away. Sometimes they don't work at all. The uncertainty and stress associated with treatment can have a negative impact on your relationship. Although you may feel renewed grief if you are nearing the end of the time period and you have not yet planned, having a limit in place can help alleviate some of the uncertainty and emotional distress.
Depending on the particular issue of fertility, a number of treatments may be available. Options include medication, in vitro fertilization and intrauterine (also called artificial) fertilization. You can also choose to use donor eggs or semen or have a substitute for fertilized egg at the end.
Some of these options may not work for you because of religious, moral, or personal beliefs. For example, some believe that freezing embryos are immoral. Have an honest discussion with your partner about the treatments that are bothering you before planning any procedures.
Tackling infertility in couples counseling
While it is possible to maintain a strong, dedicated partnership when navigating infertility issues, preventive measures can help keep your relationship healthy. Research suggests that infertility is an extremely stressful and annoying experience and any type of stress can negatively affect a relationship. Spouse therapists recommend seeking help early instead of waiting until the crisis you are experiencing begins to significantly affect your relationship.
A 2017 study found evidence that couples with compatible coping strategies had better communication and were more likely to develop a stronger relationship than infertility. In other words, it's often best to treat the issue as a group, even when your instinct may be to deal with your pain alone. Treatment can help you and your partner develop strong coping strategies and stop maladaptive behaviors, such as avoidance.
The treatment also provides a safe place to talk about your feelings about the infertility and mental health symptoms you are experiencing. (We may also recommend talking about them in individual therapy). Your therapist can support you and your partner by finding useful ways to deal with, relate to, and connect with during the challenges of infertility.
If you are not already working with a couples therapist, it may help to start seeing one, even if fertility issues do not affect your relationship at this time. Some couples therapists may have specialized training in infertility counseling. You can start your search for a couples consultant in the GoodTherapy directory.
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