Some people have difficulty believing that infertility is a physical problem.  In a sense, they are right. Infertility is not only a physical ailment, but also a psychological and social problem.

Some facts

A study by Freemen, Boxer, Rickels, Turekc, and Mastroianni revealed that 49% of women and 15% of men described infertility as the most upsetting event of their lives.

Guerra, Llobern, Veiga, and Barri (1998) found that about 60% of infertility patients suffered from an Adjustment Disorder.

According to Baram, Touretelot, Muechler, and Huang (1988), 13% of women had suicidal ideation following a failed IVF attempt.

Women had markedly higher anxiety and depression scores than other women and their stress treatment positively correlated with the type and cost of treatment. The more complicated and expensive, the more anxiety these women reported.

Research results suggest that couples entering an IVF-treatment program are, in general, psychologically well adjusted. Concerning reactions during the treatment, both women and men experience waiting for the outcome of the IVF-treatment and an unsuccessful IVF, as most stressful.

Common reactions during IVF are anxiety and depression, while after an unsuccessful IVF, feelings of sadness, depression and anger prevail. After a successful IVF-treatment, IVF-parents experience more stress during pregnancy than ‘normal fertile’ parents. Mothers with children conceived by a higher quality of parent-child relationship than mothers with a naturally conceived child.

IVF express A study that included 120 subjects with infertility, 80 fertile women, and 90 women with anorexia nervosa, concluded that infertile women without eating disorders share some of same psychological characteristics as women with severe eating disorders, such as feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

A study by Organon found:

  • the majority of women surveyed (61 percent) report making sacrifices in order to becomepregnant. These include sacrificing a carefree relationship with their husband (70%), emotional stability (69%), a spontaneous sex life (64%), financial stability (56%) and personal freedom (52%).
  • some of the most common emotions women experience due to infertility include depression (77%), anger (72%) and anxiety (56%).
  • 69 percent of women surveyed find that scheduled sex is somewhat to very burdensome, where intercourse becomes a chore and results in loss of intimacy.
  • Forty percent of respondents said someone other than their husband/partner was their greatest source of support, and more than one quarter (26 percent) felt their husband or partner could have been more supportive. Nearly 3 in 10 women (28 percent) did not feel they and their husband/partner shared the same level of commitment and dedication to getting pregnant.
  • 71 percent of infertile women find it burdensome that friends and family frequently ask when they are planning to have children.
  • 52 percent of respondents report that their insurance covers only some or none of the cost of infertility treatments, leading to financial pressures.
  • 40 percent of women surveyed were willing to make a career sacrifice such as putting their career on hold (30%) or declining a promotion that required travel (25%); just eight percent would encourage their husband/partner to change jobs for a more flexible schedule.

 

Links to cope with the emotional aspects of infertility

On Fertile Ground:  There’s intriguing evidence that stress can influence a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Welcome to the conception conundrum.

Is Stress Keeping You Infertile?

The stress of infertility.

Common psychological reactions encountered in infertile couples

Syme’s Emotional Phases of Infertility

 

The following quotes were taken from men and women struggling with infertility:

” I feel like a total basket case. I feel SO insecure about myself, like I am defective or something. Its gotten to the point where I don’t even like being around people anymore.”

“i have been ttc 3 years and after ttc 18 months i felt the same…. i went into depression and wouldn’t go out of the house……i hated seeing my friends…. i felt a failure.”

“Things that were personal and private and special between my husband and I are no longer. I feel like a failure because I can’t give my husband another child and I feel like I’m not as much of a woman because my body can’t/won’t do the things it is supposed to do.”

“I have become numb. It’s difficult to sometimes balance trying to stay positive without getting my hopes up. It’s almost as If I go around my daily chores on automatic, without thinking, without feeling. Wake up, go to work, come home be depressed, go to bed, wake up and the whole cycle starts again. I don’t look forward to anything. I don’t care about vacations, promotions. Just numb. I try to put up a front so that i won’t be such a drag to be around. I don’t think I will ever be the same.”

“Being a parent and having a family was always a part of the picture for us.  We were going to be parents. That’s part of how I understood myself and my wife. And now, it may not happen. I’m a husband but I’m not a father. So who am I now, and who is my wife, and are we really a family–can we be, without kids?”

“I’ve been on this road for over two years. It’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever dealt with. The insecurities are bleeding into EVERY part of my life. I feel like I’m losing myself piece by piece day by day. I feel left behind as everyone around me has started and some completed their families. I feel broken and defective. I can’t find the strength that I’ve relied on for so many other low points in my life.”

“Infertility has been the worst experience of my life. I’m not even sure it’s worth everything I’ve been through at this point. I want a baby, but I miss the woman I used to be. I just don’t know how to become her again.”

“Trying to conceive has brought my faith in God to an all time low. I don’t know if God exists or not and I don’t really care. I haven’t learned any life lessons. I haven’t become a stronger person, more loving or more faithful. I have become something quite the opposite and I don’t see myself getting any better.”

“I am just tired. Tired of hurting. Tired of hoping. Tired of that terrible high school feeling of being “dumped” every month when AF rears her ugly face. I was more hopeful than usual this month. You’d think I would have learned better by now. I used to be such a smiley happy person. I don’t even feel like me anymore.”

“I do believe in God, however, my faith has been rocked. There is no way to say it hasn’t. We see so much gloom and doom in what people can do to their own children and we sit here trying and praying desperately for a baby to love and take care of. I cannot pray any more. I have found that when I try to pray I just stop. I ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for me as I am unable to. I hope that God canunderstand and help me get past these feelings of failure and loss.”

“I have lost my faith in God and I didn’t want to. I wanted to believe. I can’t anymore. Why me? Why all of us? Why every friggin’ month has to be so hurtful? Painful. Debilitatingly sad. Why hurt my husband, a loving and kind man who ADORES children, more than any man I’ve ever seen?

He is so good and kind and God has given him a wife who cannot DO THIS! He cries with me at every period.And he tries to peel me off the floor every time and tell me he just KNOWS it’s going to happen. WhenI know it will never. Not without majorly expensive medical miracles. We are not rich by any stretch of the word. This nightmare has made me into a jealous and not-nice-to-be-around person. It’s like I’m a damn zombie! I too, used to love to be around my friends and their babies/families.

Now, I don’t even talk to half of them anymore because ………. because I’m THIS WAY now. I’m miserable. Even when I’m “happy”, it’s fake. I live in Limbo. ”

“I hate it all now. Hate it. I don’t believe in any of it. It’s all a fluke and if you’re not one of the lucky ones, you’re damned. It’s got nothing to do with God or faith or being a good person and getting what you give. It’s all luck. It’s freakin’ Las Vegas for the powers that be. I hate myself for BEING so hateful. How cruel. How damn cruel all of this is…. So cruel.”

“I, also have become withdrawn, don’t enjoy being around people, am very critical, negative and just want to be alone. I used to love being sociable and even hate talking on the phone now, to anyone. I have to force myself to talk to friends and to pretend I am my old self. I am beginning to think I am losing my mind and have figured out that it’s been since I started really trying to get pregnant.”

“It is unfair. I know life is unfair. I have so many good things in my life, but right now I’m obsessed and TTC has robbed me of the joy and hope of life. In that respect I feel cheated. I feel like the solution is just out of reach. I can see it, I’m trying, stretching and giving it my best, but in the end I’m a failure! “