Chicago and Evanston Infertility Counseling
For a couple hoping to expand their family, infertility can be a devastating and highly stressful occurrence. According to the National Survey for Family Growth conducted by the Center for Disease Control, as many as 17% of married women experience infertility, defined as the inability to become pregnant in 12 months of trying, or in six months of trying for women over 35. Infertility can have many causes; researchers estimate that one-third of infertility is cause by female problems, one-third by male problems, and the final third by a mixture of both male and female fertility issues or unknown factors. In all cases, infertility can be caused or exacerbated by biological or emotional issues.
The most common treatments for infertility include medical intervention. Doctors may prescribe medicine or surgery, or couples may opt for in-vitro fertilization or assisted reproductive technology. Regardless of the course of treatment, managing infertility often involves numerous doctor appointments, tests and medical exams, and periods of waiting and hoping.
For many couples, the ability to easily have a child may have felt like a given. Encountering difficulties in becoming pregnant can raise new issues within a couple, or heighten known differences. Some issues couples may encounter include:
Self-blame – Regardless of where issues of fertility stem from, one or both individuals in the couple may feel guilt, shame, or blame, or anger around their inability to become pregnant. Men may feel that their manhood or virility is in question, whereas women may feel like a failure. These feelings can have a devastating effect and eventually become a wedge between a couple who either blames themselves or each other for their infertility.
Medical Intervention and Expense – Treating infertility can quickly become a very expensive and time-consuming endeavor. Couples may spend significant amounts of time and money working with various doctors to determine and treat the source of infertility. Complex emotions around the process combined with financial stress can stretch a couple’s resources to the breaking point -literally and figuratively.
Family and Friends – While our loved ones often want to offer support and compassion, many aren’t sure how to approach the topic of infertility. Well-meaning friends and family may make comments that are hurtful, despite their intent. Infertility can be a very isolating experience for both the individuals and the couple together.
Sex and Intimacy – What used to be fun may now feel like a chore or a timed responsibility. Couples commonly experience mixed feelings around sexual encounters while struggling with infertility; clear and open communication about their feelings can be helpful in maintaining intimacy in the midst of medicalized sexual encounters.
Waiting and Hoping – Infertility is often a waiting game; waiting for doctors, waiting for test results, and waiting for pregnancy. Going through multiple cycles of fertility drugs or IVF only to once again have your period can cause significant emotional pain and anxiety. The ability to hold on to hope and find joy in life through the cycles of waiting and disappointment is key to maintaining emotional health
It is important to have clear and open communication between partners and also with those in your personal and medical support system. Finding ways to relax during this is key to maintaining emotional health and protecting your relationship.
If you are experiencing infertility, contact Simply Counseling.