Oftentimes, infertility is treated as a medical issue with little attention given to the emotional stresses an individual or couple goes through.
Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, infertility is automatically seen as the fault of the woman in the relationship. However, research has shown that on average, women are responsible for only 40% of the causes of infertility, while men are equally responsible for another 40% of it. The remaining 20% is due to other unknown factors. This just goes to show that even though men and women have been equally responsible for infertility, the woman is still being blamed and looked down upon in society.
Infertility is not a disease, yet it can cause various psycho-emotional consequences including turmoil, frustration, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness in an individual.
Apart from the inability to get pregnant, there are no other signs that indicate infertility.
For females, there are less obvious signs that include irregularities in the menstrual cycle. Males, on the other hand, may experience unusual hair growth or changes in sexual activity.
Difficulty in self-control, reduced self-esteem, feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness are some of the symptoms experienced following the treatment process.
Infertility can also affect the intimacy between partners due to the pressure of getting pregnant during sexual intercourse.
It is common for partners to respond differently to stress and grief from infertility, which can create a downward spiral in the relationship. While one partner may withdraw from the relationship to avoid the pain, the other may intensify their emotions to make their partner feel more connected.
Although much research still needs to be done on this subject, several studies suggest that psychological interventions, especially those emphasizing stress management and coping skills training, are beneficial for infertility patients.
Through therapy, couples are able to discuss options and make decisions on what to do next. Fertility treatments, artificial insemination, surrogate parenting, adoption, or even separation are some of the discussions that a couple has to explore. Therapy can also help couples deal with feelings of guilt or anger that may arise when only one person is infertile.
Let us look at some options one can adopt to help cope with infertility:
1. Couples Therapy : When a couple struggles with fertility issues, couples therapy can help improve communication and explore decisions that work for both partners. Sometimes, partners may disagree about the best course of treatment, or one partner may feel hesitant to seek medical help. A therapist can help navigate these concerns. Therapy may also be a useful place to discuss how long infertility treatments should be pursued or the amount of money that should be spent on attempting treatment.
2. Family Therapy : In some cases, infertility may affect other members of a family, such as children and grandparents. A couple may have a hard time sharing the news of infertility with other members of the family, or they may feel pressured to have children even when they cannot pursue treatment options for infertility. Any of these issues may be addressed in family therapy. It may be helpful to encourage friends and family to become informed about infertility, as they can be an important source of support when one is experiencing anxiety and stress.
3. Support Groups: Small get-togethers with people who can relate to you have been proven to be helpful in dealing with the effects of an infertility diagnosis. In these groups, a wide variety of people can share their experiences, suggestions, coping tips, doctor recommendations, and options for new treatments. Social support plays an important role in helping people move past stress, particularly if they feel judged or inadequate because of fertility issues. Simply having the option of discussing one’s difficulties with others who are similarly affected may be of significant help.
Therapy can be very helpful before beginning medical treatments for infertility. This is because the therapist would be able to help educate the couple on what to expect psychologically during the treatment. Therapy also helps to ensure that both partners are comfortable with the decision to start treatment, especially because it can be a physically and emotionally draining process. Some people are naturally anxious, and in cases like this, having a therapist is almost a necessity. A therapist will allow you to verbalize and help with self-regulation through breathing.
For those who are open to it, a therapist can also try brainspotting. Brainspotting therapy is a type of alternative therapy that uses spots in a person’s visual field to help them process trauma. It accesses trauma trapped in the subcortical brain, the area of the brain responsible for motion, consciousness, emotions, and learning.
While family and friends can also be a source of support, it can also be hard to connect with those who are expecting children when one cannot conceive, or who say things that are well-intended but may come across as insensitive. This is exactly why the role of a professional is crucial in the journey of infertility.
Our team of highly experienced professionals make the process easier for you by using methods and techniques that you are comfortable with. Head over to our website at incontact.com.sg to book your appointment with us today!