For couples struggling to build their family, infertility can put a strain on the couple and even impact family relationships. The path to conception can often be long and arduous and can feel like a grieving process repeated month after month. It ultimately will resolve in one of three ways:
1. The couple will conceive a baby
2. They will find alternative ways to become parents (adoption, surrogacy, or fostering)
3. They will choose to stop fertility treatments and live without children.
Infertility and Mental Health
But did you know that for a lot of couples, the journey after having a baby doesn’t stop there? Unfortunately infertility is one of the major risk factors for developing a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). The couples who have not yet found resolution or chosen to stop treatments can also experience grief and mood symptoms as well.
And to add to it, there often is such stigma and misunderstanding about this for the women and men (yes, men!) experiencing this because their loved ones may not understand why they’ve worked so hard for this baby and aren’t feeling complete joy and happiness.
I think it’s important that with National Infertility Awareness Week we talk about this so couples can be prepared for this, loved ones can be aware of the research linking infertility with depression and anxiety, and that the journey doesn’t always end with the baby happily ever after. Let’s CONTINUE to support the women and men going through this journey and get them help. How might you reach out to someone you know who is going through this?
You’ve got this:
I want to say to all of the individuals and couples struggling to conceive: I see you, and you’ve got this. I honor your pain as you fight insurance for coverage, your work for support and paid work leave, your emotions during every intense monthly roller coaster and sometimes even as you fight with your own body. You are amazing, fierce warriors, and you’ve got this.
I see you, same-sex couples, who go through the same fertility treatments and processes whether or not you are experiencing infertility yourselves! I honor your struggles and pain as you go through the monthly fear, hope, and often devastation if you didn’t conceive, not to mention the disenfranchised process of fighting with discrimination, insurance and other systems.
My greatest wish for all of you is for self compassion. As you watch yourself go through such battles, isn’t it amazing what you’re capable of? Please be gentle with yourselves and tend to your needs. If you’re hurting, it’s normal and you’re not alone.
For therapists and support groups focused on infertility, please go to: resolve.org .For therapists certified in EMDR and specializing in perinatal mental health and pregnancy loss go to: emdria.org . For therapists and support groups specializing in pregnancy and postpartum support, please go to : postpartum.net and postpartumhealthalliance.org (in the San Diego area) and for same sex couples, I love this list of support groups and find it quite comprehensive: