Coping With the Emotional Side of Infertility

While both men and women suffer the emotional fallout from a diagnosis of infertility, they likely react to those emotions in different ways. As women we often tend to feel as if we are somehow responsible for everyone else's bad feelings. We are the emotional caretakers of the family, and feel as though anything bad that happens is our responsibility. In order to take care of everyone else's feelings, we typically repress our own-unfortunately, this allows those negative feelings to grow inside of us until we feel completely out of control. When a couple suffers from infertility, the woman in the relationship will often try to protect her husband not only from her pain and feelings of failure but from his own as well. Women will often go to medical appointments on their own, sparing their husband's from a process which could intensify his own emotional pain regarding the infertility. On the flip side, men are more conditioned to repress their emotions, and are trained to take charge, make decisions, and think without being emotionally sidetracked. The male in the infertile couple can feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of their wife's emotions, therefore channel their own energies back into their work.

The woman must therefore bear the brunt of the emotional impact for the fertility issues; she will feel pain, anger and fear in varying degrees, and may feel out of control, anxious and depressed. She may find herself yearning for an emotional connection with her husband in one moment, yet be unable to prevent withdrawing from him because she feels she has disappointed him in some way. The bottom line when discussing the natural emotions of infertility, is to recognize that these feelings are perfectly normal. You don't have control over your feelings-they are a primitive part of our brains, innate to human beings.

Recognizing that emotions don't make us weak, strong, bad, good, masculine or feminine allows us to be a bit more in control of those sometimes overwhelming emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel, however you do need to identify your feelings so you can understand exactly what you need from your partner during this difficult time. Rather than assuming you know what your partner is feeling, ask him specifically, and really listen when he is ready to talk. There are psychological and emotional differences between men and women, so don't assume that, just because he is not reacting in the same way you are, that he doesn't care or is indifferent to your feelings. Communication is the key during infertility issues between couples. If you can talk openly about how you feel to one another, you are much less likely to experience marital difficulties on top of your infertility issues.

Coping With Infertility

First, understand that you are not alone in your infertility issues. Nearly 7.3 million women in the United States and Canada experience reproductive problems. Recognize that you may go through stages; the process of coping with infertility can be equated with the grief cycle gone through by those who have lost loved ones. This cycle consists of periods of shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and, finally, acceptance. In the course of dealing with reproductive problems, you may revisit these stages time and time again. If you can, share both the burdens and joys of your experiences with infertility with your spouse; you can become closer and develop a deeper respect for one another in the process.