Many people grow up with the assumption they will be parents one day. Girls and women, in particular, tend to be surrounded by images and expectations of motherhood, from baby dolls to baby showers. Their parents, friends, religious groups, and the media all propagate these expectations. Some women find that motherhood has become a part of their self-image, and for others, becoming a mother is their highest ambition.
Women sustain incredible pressure to find partners and start families. Some women, of course, have no desire to do these things, but for the ones that do, it can be devastating to learn they can’t. They may feel as if something is wrong with them or that they lack something they truly desire.
Infertility is often a different experience for men because they do not grow up with the same pressure to become parents. However, males often find that their self-image suffers when they learn that a fertility problem originates with them. Men are also typically raised to keep their feelings to themselves, and they may be so accustomed to bottling up emotions, resulting in them being unsure about what they are feeling or how to ask for help.
What’s clear is that both men and women can suffer from frustration and disappointment as they fail to conceive month after month. If they feel pressure to be brave for their partners, men and women may downplay their feelings or fail to seek treatment for their growing depression. When a couple is undergoing fertility treatment without success, the emotional toll can be enormous. The physical demands of fertility treatments can be an additional source of emotional upheaval. On top of everything else, families and friends don’t always recognize the grief infertility can cause, so the affected person can feel isolated and ashamed.
Where to Find Support
Joining a support group for hopeful parents dealing with infertility is a way to make connections with people who are experiencing similar problems, make lasting friendships, and find a safe place to share your feelings and offer insight and support to others – actions which can be therapeutic. If you feel that your love life has become mechanical, it can help to take a break from your fertility treatment regimen to rekindle your romance. Remember that this is likely a temporary crisis; it will resolve, and you will be able to continue a healthy, satisfying sex life with your partner.
One final suggestion, if you are suffering from depression due to problems related to infertility, consider seeking therapy with a counselor who specializes in fertility issues to support you through the process of fertility treatments.