PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF INFERTILITY
Over the years, we have met so many couples on the road of infertility. In one of my previous jobs, there were 8 inspirational ladies in the office out of a total of 25 staff, who were still trusting God for the miracle of a child. I found it hard to believe that this would be a coincidence. We became close friends more so because we understood the pain of each other. At the time of preparing the content for this website, 6 of the 8 ladies have fallen pregnant and been blessed with a beautiful baby. I have seen miracles right in front of me as one of the ladies I am referring to was told by the doctor that due to her husband’s medical factors, a child will not be possible. She nearly fell off her chair when a doctor, months later confirmed her pregnancy when she went in for a routine flu injection.
I must admit that the reaction of infertile couples to the rollercoaster ride has been quite different. One reaction is to accept a better of quality of life with no children, a second reaction is to go repeatedly for an infertility treatment until you achieve success whilst a third reaction is to slip into some form of depression. Repeated infertility treatments can leave you in major debt if you are not financially secure.
The embryologist and infertility specialist that is so involved in the infertility treatment that a couple chooses to do plays a critical role in the psychological impact of infertility on the couple themselves. Under this particular option on the website, you will also find an approved publication from the medical journal, RMB Online where an embryologist in South Africa conducted studies into this very subject. It is highly recommended that when choosing an infertility specialist, you pay attention to the “people skills” of that specialist. He/she should be approachable and sensitive whilst being knowledgeable in the field of infertility. All too often these days, the field of infertility has become a huge profit driven industry with treatments costing an arm and a leg and not funded at all by the medical aid in South Africa.
At some point on the infertility road, a couple who has done many treatments to no avail will have to make a decision as to whether to continue with treatments. Not only do they challenge your budget, they have a huge impact on your emotional state of mind. I know of couples whose marriages deteriorated due to the tension, and which ultimately resulted in divorce.
If you are a friend to a couple experiencing infertility, watch out for the following signs in them where your help might be needed to bring the couple on track
1. Loss of appetite
2. Quick temper
4. Mood swings
5. Constant bickering
6. Coming home late from work consistently to avoid the tension at
7. An obsession with researching the issue of infertility
8. Financial difficulties due to the pressure of paying for infertility
9. Any form of addiction to numb the pain of infertility eg. Alcoholism, gambling etc.
10. Loss of religious faith
In Chinese medicine, thoughts and emotions have a huge impact on the body, and without doubt, the two main emotions that people suffer from when they are going through IVF are fear and guilt.
Fear, in particular, plays a large part in IVF treatments. There is the fear that women and their partners experience about telling other people, as well as the fear about how to handle other people’s opinions. There are the fears about what the treatment actually involves, about what effect the drugs will have on the woman’s physical and mental health and about what effect the treatment will have on the couple’s relationship. Finally, there is the fear for many women that this is their final chance at parenthood and that if it doesn’t work they will have exhausted all the options.
Guilt – perhaps because you feel you have let your partner down or failed in some way – is the dominant emotion for many women going through IVF. Men also express how guilty they feel, particularly if the reason that IVF or ICSI is needed is related to an issue with sperm. They often feel quite helpless watching their partner go through invasive treatments to counteract “their” problem. The more you prepare yourself emotionally, the less energy will be wasted on destructive, negative thoughts and the more psychologically and physically resilient you will be.
Is it helpful to tell other people I am doing IVF ? - Emotionally, IVF is draining and feeling you are supported is key to coping with IVF. One of the ways is to decide in advance who you are going to tell about the treatment because there are a lot of issues attached to family and close friends, in particular. It is very common for women to tell friends, family and colleagues, only to be met by unhelpful comments such as “What are you doing that for ? or “Stop worrying and you will get pregnant”. Inevitably these comments although well meant, are very upsetting, partly because the woman and her partner end up feeling misunderstood and unsupported – the very opposite of what they were hoping to get back from the person. Think of the emotions that people in your life create in you : go through your siblings, parents, friends and colleagues. Which ones can you trust to keep the information to themselves ? Which ones do you think will be unconditionally supportive and positive ?
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