Thursday, 17 January 2013

Infertility: The Emotional Roller Coaster


Infertility can alter nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Self-esteem, dreams for the future, & relationships with others may all be affected. There are only a few situations in life which are as challenging & overwhelming as infertility.

Yet the emotional aspects of infertility often go ignored & untreated.Because it is such a private issue, many couples do not share their experiences openly with friends & family. As a result, they feel isolated. But they are not alone. In fact, 10% of couples experience infertility with all the feelings & frustrations that may go with it.

Realization & Acknowledgment

Most couples expect to conceive shortly after they stop using birth control. But as time passes, concern begins to replace anticipation. Couples are likely to feel shock & dismay when they realize they aren’t able to conceive a child as easily as expected.Questions begin to haunt them: What if they never have children? Could they be sterile? These thoughts are so frightening that many couples deny the possibility of a fertility problem.
The following are some examples of the wide range of emotions couples often experience during the sometime difficult acknowledgement stage:
  • The woman is often the first to realize that there may be a problem.
  • The man may to be convinced that the couple needs medical intervention.
  • Feelings of fear, anger, denial, stress, guilt, blame, self-pity & jealousy begin to occur.
  • Emotions & disagreements become magnified. Issues take on greater importance than under “normal” circumstances.


  • Don’t be afraid to talk to others who had difficult conceiving. Their experiences will help you realize you are not alone. However, remember that your situation is not exactly like anyone else’s.
  • If you are over 35 & have been trying to conceive for six months or longer, or under 35 & trying for one year or more, consult your doctor immediately.
  • Be prepared for the fact that you & your partner may not experience the same feelings at the same time or in the same way.
  • Expect to feel a mixture of fear, relief, or anxiety when you consult a doctor.
  • Approach infertility with your partner as you would a new project. Map out a strategy & a timetable.
  • Try to keep the lines of communication open with your partner. This may not always be easy, but you need to support each other now, & communication is vital for this.
  • It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated & angry. Try to redirect your focus toward something positive such as favourite hobby or a new activity.
Responding to early concerns about infertility can increase a couple’s chances for a successful outcome. The earlier a problem is identified, the sooner your physician can recommend a treatment program that is right for you.

Evaluation & Diagnosis

Most couples are searching for answers during this stage. Hopes of finding a quick solution may be replaced with uncertainty. The testing period can be stressful, invasive, & expensive, & couples may feel uncomfortable, guilty & even fearful. These are normal reactions to an overwhelming experience.
The following are the other examples of common feelings couples experience during the infertility evaluation:

Common Experiences

  • Loss of control. A sense that doctors & tests are taking over your life.
  • Anger of your body, your partner, or others who are pregnant or have children.
  • Self-punishment: “What did I did to deserve this?” “What could I have done differently?”
  • Threatened sense of sexuality.
  • Shame & embarrassment over not functioning “normally.”
  • Need for secrecy, resulting in isolation from friends & family.
  • Blame & guilt.
  • Lack of privacy due to invasive nature of tests.
  • Sense of being misunderstood by those who have children or are pregnant.
  • Shock, numbness, &/or relief when a problem is confirmed.

Coping Strategies

  • Read as much as you can about infertility, its causes, & treatments.
  • Communicate fears & emotions to your partner regularly.
  • Support one another, but understand that at times this will be difficult.
  • Acknowledge that periods of depression & anxiety may happen.
  • Cut down on stressful activities.
  • Allow yourself private time.
  • Try sharing your problem with supportive friends or family members.
  • Try going to doctors appointments together so you both understand what is happening.
  • Write down all your questions so you don’t forget to ask your doctor. (it’s normal to become nervous or side-tracked, & to forget to ask about something that concerns you.)

The evaluation can be traumatic time for both partners. Providing mutual emotional support can alleviate some of the stress & prevent distancing. It may even strengthen the relationship. The couple may find a new sense of security, as they realize they can truly depend on each other despite the uncertainties they face. Infertility is couple’s problem, & it’s best to approach it as a team.


Most couples feel that infertility dominates their lives at this point. Freedom & spontaneity seem to be treasures of the past.
It is normal for couples to feel as if they are riding on emotional roller coaster, hope at the start of the treatment, disappointment & mourning when a cycle fails. They are often exhausted & frustrated with the demands of therapy & may feel undermined or dehumanized.
The following are examples of common feelings couples experience during treatment:

Common Experience

  • Anger at infertility for ruling everyday life.
  • Frustration over treatments that don’t guarantee a baby, despite the time, emotional energy, & money spent.
  • Anger at the inequity if infertility treatment. In most cases, women carry more of the burden.
  • Feeling of victimization by doctors, technology, & medication.
  • Uncertainty about the side effects of the medications.
  • A heightened sense of sensitivity & vulnerability.
  • The feeling that intercourse if a chore & a battleground for many negative emotions.
  • Growing anxiety over the financial cost.
  • Frustration over the financial cost.
  • Frustration over the inability to make short & long-term plans.
  • Self-punishment: “May I don’t deserve to have a child.”
  • Blame: “If only we’d done this or that, then we’d have a baby.”

  • Take the long view. Set up a timetable for treatment & live by it as much as possible.
  • Keep records of your treatments, paper work, etc. this will make it easier to pursue insurance coverage.
  • Don’t dwell on the short term ups & downs of treatment.
  • Don’t except your partner to always feel as you do. Share when you can, but don’t push it.
  • Consider the possibility of restructuring your life if treatment becomes overwhelming.
  • Try to live with baby-making sex. Don’t feel guilty about it. Sex may be automatic most times.
  • Make a date to have sex for fun during the “nonfertile” times of cycle.
  • Seek emotional support from a counselor or support group.
Going through treatment can be a peak stress point. Remember that you are not to blame for any apparent failure to respond the therapy. There is always hope & success may be achieved after considerable effort. Even in normal fertile couples, there is no guarantee to conceiving right away. A successful resolution can make it all worthwhile.

Many couples who have been through the experience of infertility say, “If I can get through this, I can get through anything.” The ability to get through such a demanding & often overwhelming experience leaves many couples with renewed self-esteem & a feeling of confidence. Reaching the resolution stage is an accomplishment within itself & has its own rewards. This can be a time of reordering priorities & changing goals.
Here are some common feelings couples experience as they work toward resolution:

Common Experience
  • Acceptance of things that cannot be changed.
  • Feelings of exhaustion & the need to move on.
  • Realization that not every aspect of life can be controlled.
  • A greater ability to empathize with other people’s problems.
  • Realization that good things can come out of bad experiences-such as a new sense of intimacy within marriage.
  • Realization that life can be fulfilling even for those who don’t fulfill every dream.

  • Talk to others who have successfully resolved their infertility in different ways.
  • Stop treatment before helplessness becomes uncontrollable.
  • Focus on your spouse & your relationship & get involved in meaningful activities together.
  • Realize that you may try to become pregnant in the future or choose to look into other alternatives, such as adoption.
  • If you & your partner continue to feel isolated from one another, consider couples counseling.
if you have been unsuccessful after a reasonable period of time, remember that you & your partner have a choice: You can continue seeking treatment or you can decide it is no longer a viable option. You can also choose to look at any obstacles as “opportunities.”


The infertility experience is an opportunity for many couples to face their fears & resolve important issues by working together as a couple. Whatever the result, this experience can create an opportunity to learn new communication & problem-solving skills & to grow closer to your partner.
Remember, also, that couples counseling can help many couples resolve any remaining regrets or resentments. In the end, you may find you share a new level of mutual respect & understanding. And you may find the ability to get through this together has opened new doors to the future & deepened your relationship in ways never before imagined.

With your own courage and strength, guidance and treatment of experienced doctors like Dr. Rita Bakshi and best medical facilities at centres like International Fertility Centre, we would make the journey of treatment smooth. Success is then guaranteed in the form of the sweetest and cutest baby in the world!


  1. Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying, Or, six months, if a woman is 35 or older. Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. Infertility is not always a woman's problem. Both women and men can have problems that cause infertility. About one-third of infertility cases are caused by women's problems. Another one third of fertility problems are due to the man.The other cases are caused by a mixture of male and female problems or by unknown problems.
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  3. The time when an egg is produced from your ovary is called OVULATION. Ovulation usually occurs each month, and at the same time the lining of your womb becomes engorged with blood ready to receive and nourish the expectant embryo, also your bodies hormones begin to rise in preparation of supporting a pregnancy. This is normally in the middle of your monthly cycle (around day 14 if you have a 28 day cycle). Your egg will live for about 12-24 hours after ovulation.
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