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Roughly 10 percent of couples who are trying to get pregnant will be affected by infertility. Infertility is defined as trying to conceive without success for longer than a year. This will resolve naturally or with lifestyle changes in some cases.

In other cases, a clear medical problem is to blame, or the cause of the infertility remains unknown without it ever resolving. One thing is clear infertility can have a large emotional impact on individuals and couples. 

Feelings you are likely to experience when you have infertility

To an extent, every individual will deal differently with infertility, and every couple will react differently as a unit. Those who are not aware of an underlying fertility problem may blame bad luck, or a bad diet, and might well implement certain lifestyle choices and continue trying. As the couple continues trying for a baby, it may become apparent that there is a problem of some kind. Women who have already been diagnosed with infertility (see common causes causes of female infertility) experience remarkably similar emotions. They include:

  • Almost all infertile women (96 percent) wished the infertility was not true.
  • Shock and surprise (70 percent)
  • Embarrassment (77 percent) and shame (37 percent)
  • Anger (73 percent)
  • Depression (78 percent)
  • Hurt/pain (84 percent)
  • Envious of people who do have children (83 percent)
  • To a lesser extent, women with infertility felt guilty, isolated, and inadequate. A small minority believes that infertility was normal or just a part of life.

If you are one of those women currently struggling with infertility, you are rationally quite aware that you do not need to be ashamed, embarrassed, or to feel guilty. You also should not beat yourself up for experiencing these emotions, since the above figures should you that they are very common among women struggling with infertility. Anger, depression and hurt feelings are all normal parts of the grieving process and infertility certainly falls into that category. These feelings may subside as you process things alone or in therapy, but one interesting thing to note is that infertile women who commenced the fertility testing and ART (Artificial Reproductive Techniques) process instantly felt happier. This is true even if these steps do not result in a pregnancy. Perhaps these steps offer new hope that a woman will have a baby, or ensure her that she is doing everything she can?

Talking to others about your infertility

Feeling hurt, angry, shocked, isolated, depressed... all of these very commonly experienced emotions are much harder to deal with when you keep them to yourself. Who should you talk to about your struggles? Does infertility destroy relationships? Data shows that most male halves of an infertile couple are just as distressed as the woman is. Her partner is the most common source of emotional support for a women who is not getting pregnant, and many couples find that their infertility brings them closer together. A small minority argues more than they did before discovering their infertility, but this is not the norm. While you may feel closer to each other emotionally, your sex life is bound to suffer.

Couples in which one partner was diagnosed with infertility tend to have less sexual desire, less sexual satisfaction, and simply less sex. This is understandable, but something you may want to seek counseling for. Women who struggle with infertility usually find comfort in talking to their mother about their problems, and best friends come at a close second. Infertility is a problem universally understood to be painful. Discussing your hurt is unlikely to bother anyone truly close to you, though there are many misconceptions about infertility that could lead to insensitive and hurtful comments.

Taking action

Do you find yourself struggling with the negative feelings that are so often associated with infertility? It is clear that such feelings can have quite an impact, especially for those who do not develop functional coping mechanisms. Infertility represents not one loss, but many. You may feel you have lost your fertility, your womanhood, the chance to conceive naturally (and normally), potential children, and any number of other things. Grieving for these losses is normal and necessary, and you may even have to do so before you feel able to seek fertility treatment, should you want to.

Sometimes, the support of your partner and other loved ones is quite enough to help you find your way to a new normal. Books, blogs and online message boards may also be of value. There is nothing wrong with seeing a counselor about your infertility and the many negative and difficult feelings that go along with the inability to get pregnant, however.

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