Emotional and social concerns related to infertility

Infertility is a major life crisis for many couples. It may affect self-esteem, body image, sexual identity, life goals, and sexual relations. When faced with the possibility or diagnosis of infertility, you may experience a broad range of emotions, including:

  • Initial disbelief and denial followed by anger and grief.
  • Loss of control.
  • Guilt and blame. Finding out that one partner is infertile can place strain on a relationship.
  • Increased stress, particularly if treatment requires frequent testing and intercourse on a schedule.
  • Monthly cycles of hopeful anticipation followed by depression when menstruation begins.
  • Feelings of isolation. A desire for secrecy often can isolate a couple from support systems such as friends and family during a time of great stress. Counseling and infertility support groups provide vital assistance for many couples.

Social exchanges and situations may be painful when you see others with babies or are asked about your plans for having children. Having family members who are expecting children may contribute to your feelings of stress, as may parents wanting grandchildren to continue the family lineage.

Last Updated: March 21, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA & Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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