Sometimes making the call to ask for help is the hardest step to take when you are having difficulty conceiving. Many things can get in the way of reaching out and getting assistance–sometimes these obstacles are within a relationship or other times within you. And at times, the myths associated with infertility can be obstacles too. For example, many have heard the advise from well-intentioned (but ill informed) friends and family to “just relax and it will happen”, while there is no clinical evidence to support this notion.
Infertility is a condition of “absence”, that is the lack of a wished for baby, and despite it being recognized as a “disease” by every health/medical organization, some find it hard to accept it as such and seek help. Here are some common barriers we hear to seeking treatment and strategies about ways to overcome obstacles that keep you from realizing your dream of having a baby:
- “If we just keep trying on our own, maybe it will happen, eventually.”
Infertility is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a “disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” For women over 35, it is recommend to seek medical consultation after 6 months (or sooner if there are other health related issues) as age plays a major factor in fertility. Thus, the longer one delays getting appropriate medical help can become a factor in prognosis and treatment.
- “I’m afraid it won’t work.”
As a friend once wisely stated, “fighting the fear, is always harder than fighting the fight!” Fear is paralyzing while taking action is liberating and becoming well informed helps to mobilize you. Infertility is a treatable disease and there are many proven medical options to help you have a baby.
- My spouse and I don’t seem to be on the same page about the lengths to which we should go to have a baby.”
It is not unusual for couples to have different ideas about type of fertility treatments and how far each is willing to go in treatment. It can be helpful to put a specific time aside on a regular basis to talk about what your feelings are regarding treatment, rather than having a “running dialogue”. A good strategy is to set aside 20 minutes every day, setting a timer, to talk about your infertility, with each getting 10 minutes to express your feelings. Also, trying “active listening” with each other, reflecting back what you hear your partner saying and feeling, before stating your response. If you don’t seem to be making progress, consider reaching out to our counseling staff for help. In fact, when couples are at an impasse regarding treatment is often the time we hear from people and counseling can be a very effective in working things through.
- “I’ve lost my sense of boundaries. Being infertile has become who I am and I’m ashamed of this.”
Infertility affects approximately 1 out of 8 couples trying to conceive, so is more common that many people realize. For many it is a silent struggle with the invisible loss of the wish-for baby and sense of defectiveness in not being able to get pregnant. And all these feelings can lead to a sense of shame that is hard to bear. However, understanding the normalcy of your feelings and being able to talk about it with others who truly understand is the best way to unshackle the shame of infertility. This is one of the many areas where are support groups are so helpful to our patients as they go through treatment.
- “I’m not cut out for fertility treatment. I don’t have the mental stamina.”
We know fertility treatment can be stressful and our practice understands this better than most! We have highly trained counselors who specialize in fertility counseling to work with individuals and couples, providing effective strategies for coping. It is important to know you are not alone and there are great support resources available.