Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Challenges Couples Face When Dealing with Infertility

Infertility, just like any other challenge, has the ability to pull couples apart.  It also has the ability to draw couples together and strengthen marriages.  The decision to lean toward independence or dependence is up to the individuals involved.  There are common challenges among couples dealing with infertility, but there are ways to overcome them.

1. Having to listen to insensitive comments or unsolicited advice

Individuals and couples dealing with infertility are sometimes asked to personal of questions by family, friends, or even strangers.  For example, someone might ask you if you or your spouse is the one who is infertile.  They might assume you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re doing something wrong.  You may be told to just relax and not think about it or reassured that it will happen when it’s meant to happen. 

To draw closer to one another: Realize that most people are well meaning in their advice or comments.  Meaning is always in the person and not the word, right?  We all take things differently and it’s important to let these things go.  Though, there words might not bring comfort to you try and remember that they most likely said it because they care and want to support you.  When you need to or feel like it open up to your spouse and listen to them.  Don’t allow yourself or your spouse to believe any insensitive comments or advice concerning your fertility.

2. Finances involved with infertility

Treating infertility isn’t cheap.  In fact for many couples it is the difference between saving for the future and spending their money for a chance to become parents.  Some insurance plan cover infertility treatment, but this coverage varies among policies and is often not enough to cover all expenses or treatments.  The out of pocket expenses or not covered treatments can lead to fights or resentments if spouses disagree on cost effectiveness or either is pressured to go through with costly treatments.

To draw closer to one another: Talk about what your individual goals are for “your” money.  Don’t assume that your spouse wants the same things you do and discuss these differences.  Come to an agreement on what you both are willing to spend in order to become mother and father, along with what treatments or procedures you are willing to endure.

3. The possibility of fertility treatments failing or the possibility of never having children

Infertility can be treated and many times fertility treatments are successful.  Couples get pregnant with the help of fertility treatments all the time, but these successful cases don’t necessarily mean that you will have the same results with treatments.  Nor do unsuccessful cases affect your chances of getting pregnant.  Infertility is different for each couple and it may even take several treatments or cycles for a couple to conceive.  In other cases couples may go through several treatments or cycles without success or stop treatments due to the physical and psychological toll.  This can lead to feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and may even cause issues in the bedroom.

To draw closer to one another: Decide together when to end treatment or express when you need to take a break to your spouse.  If you feel like you have reached your limit regarding treatments, then decide with your spouse how you will move forward.  Specifically, determine whether you will pursue adoption or accept that you will be childless.  Also, don’t allow infertility to create intimacy issues.  Share your true feelings with your spouse.  View sex beyond procreation and understand that its purpose goes beyond this single goal; it bonds couples and strengthens marriages, so don’t let fertility issues stop you from expressing your love to your spouse.  Seek counseling when you feel like you need professional help dealing with these issues.

4. Feeling left out or lonely because your friends and family already have children

            You might feel isolated as you compare yourself to all of your family and friends who are parents.  It’s a lonely feeling not having someone in your daily life that can relate to what you’re going through.  Reproductive issues are not commonly brought up or put out in the open for everyone to see.  It is a personal matter and in many cases it may stay private due to an individual or couple feeling ashamed and embarrassed or fearing of judgment. 

            Though I think it’s safe advice, at least here in the U.S., to get rid of any fear of being judged by others and to avoid feeling ashamed about an issue that is not your fault.  I hope you feel safe enough to share your struggle(s) with those closest to you and even in situations you feel comfortable telling others.  They may not always know exactly what you’re going through, but at least they will understand why you might skip a family function every now and then.  You may find that joining an online support group removes this isolation, so go try it out if you’ve thought about it.

To draw closer to one another: Tell your spouse when you experience feelings of loneliness or shame.  Comfort and listen to your spouse when they confide in you.  Avoid comparing yourself to others and instead focus on the future.  Live your life!  If you don’t feel up to attending a family gathering or your friend’s baby shower, because it’s too much that day, then don’t.  Explain to family and friends, if needed, your reason behind skipping out occasionally.

5. The side effects of fertility treatment drugs, hormones, and injectables. 

Fertility medications have been known to cause irritability, mood swings, sleeping interruptions, depression, mania, thinking problems, and anxiety.  Though, it is sometimes difficult to identify the true cause of these psychological reactions when dealing with infertility and fertility treatments. 

To draw closer to one another: Practice forgiveness in your marriage, especially during treatments.  Be understanding and considerate when you notice that your spouse might be on edge or getting upset.  Communicate when you’re feeling like you’re no longer in control or grumpy for no reason.  This sometimes helps the forgiveness process, as well as dealing with the side effects.  Breathe deeply and practice other relaxing techniques to help conquer these unwelcomed emotions. 

6. The emotional cost to individuals and couples. 

Infertility often is an individual diagnosis, but it affects the entire couple.  One spouse may be affected by the fertility problem more than the other, but together they bear this burden.  The hardship of not being able to bear children or not being able to carry a baby to full term takes a toll on its survivors.  The roller coaster of emotions comes with episodes of depression and anxiety. 

To draw closer to one another: If you’re experiencing these trying emotions, then lean on your supportive spouse, who can acts as the temporary strength through these trying times.  Get comfortable feeling vulnerable with your spouse.  They are not there to judge you; they are there to help you through life’s challenges.

            It can be challenging to desire parenthood, but be unable to have children naturally.  Remember that there is help out there and the options go beyond what you realize.  It may take time to overcome the challenges that come with infertility, but together you and your spouse can draw closer together.

By Tawnya