The Pain of Infertility
The Stress of Infertility
Many couples today are struggling with the effects of infertility, trying to cope with the emotional toll it takes while endeavoring to muster the courage to continue their quest for answers. Current research is indicating that the emotional and psychological stress felt by women with infertility problems is not unlike the stress felt by women dealing with cancer or HIV. This stress effects life tremendously and while more recent research does not link stress with infertility, it can still create some major problems for both men and women.
The Feelings of Loss and Anger
The myriad emotions which accompany infertility can feel overwhelming. Perhaps the knowledge that these feelings are normal can be helpful both in understanding and dealing with them. Some of the more prevalent emotions a woman may experience include a profound sense of loss for the child or children she hoped would one day fill her house and life. There is also the feeling of loss due to missing out on an experience that should be a normal part of a woman's life - birthing a child. The sense of missing out on parenthood creates another cry of loss and even anger. The feeling of anger, at life in general, or toward her partner or herself, can become mixed with jealousy and anger toward others who have children or for whom conceiving was not an issue.
A woman may decide she will be strong and determined, hoping the following month will bring a positive pregnancy test only to have those hopes dashed. The shock and sadness which accompanies the letdown may move her into denial - this can't really be happening to me. Resolutely she determines, once again, next month will be different. And it isn't. The denial could potentially lead to unrealistic expectations, excuses and fears.
Shame - I'm Not Woman Enough
Perhaps one of the most intense and difficult emotions accompanying infertility is the sense of shame both women and men can feel. Infertility can attack a woman's feeling of femininity making her feel that she is somehow not fully a woman. The same diagnosis in a man can leave him with the feeling that he's not masculine and less of a man. An individual may also feel "less than" because they are unable to conceive and birth a child of their own.
The feeling of their lives being out of control, not having control over their bodies and feeling there's nothing they can do about it can also leave men and women struggling. Not knowing if treatments will work can undermine hope.
It's Not Easy, But It Is Normal
None of the emotions or feelings expressed above is foreign or exceptional in cases of infertility. They are normal and part of the sadness and realities faced by couple dealing with this problem. Sometimes, just knowing they're not abnormal in this regard can help women and men deal with their emotions and seek help and support for their pain.