Infertility is stressful and couples dealing with infertility over a period of months or years are likely to experience infertility grief. Common feelings associated with grief include anger, intense sadness, depression, resentment, rage and apathy. Eventually marital discord and social isolation may occur.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Fact Sheet on Infertility Counseling and Support provides signs to consider:
- persistent feelings of sadness, guilt or worthlessness
- loss of interest in usual activities
- agitation and anxiety
- constant preoccupation with infertility
- difficulty concentrating and remembering
- change in appetite, weight or sleep patterns
- social isolation
- increased use of alcohol or drugs
- increased mood swings
- marital conflicts
- other current or past stress that heightens infertility distress
Infertility grief is different from other forms of grieving because there is still hope and the potential of achieving a pregnancy. Many women with infertilit
y experience multiple losses when treatments are unsuccessful or a miscarriage occurs. Some women have intense sadness every month at menstruation when they realize that a pregnancy isn’t achieved. This may be followed by periods of hope with a new procedure or third party assistance. Infertility grief is complicated and may lead to depression after months or years. Couples feel like they are on a roller coaster ride of emotions ranging from anger to depression and back to being hopeful again.
Infertility Stress Management
Learning to activate the relaxation response is an effective way to combat negative emotions. However, this alone may not be enough. Counseling with an infertility specialist can help you work through some of the difficult feelings and harmful cognitions that arise during this life crisis. Couples counseling can also help you and your spouse cope with relationship problems that often accompany infertility.
- ASRM - American Society for Reproductive Medicine membership. Fertility and Family, LPC offers infertility consultation and counseling and helps couples explore various reproductive solutions with an open mind, realizing the complicated and personal nature of this issue. Email for an appointment or phone consultation.