For many of us, raising a family is one of the most important ambitions we have in life. Dreams of teaching our children how to ride a bike, playing catch with dad or learning to bake cookies under mom’s watchful eye are practically universal. But with infertility affecting upwards of 15% of couples worldwide, life sometimes throws us a particularly cruel curveball when we try to turn that dream into a reality.
What’s vital to remember is that you’re not alone, there is expert help available, and there’s plenty of reason to hold onto hope! Here we explore some of the reasons fertility problems are so upsetting to would-be parents, what steps you can take if you are affected, and where to get help and support.
Feeling like a failure
We’re so surrounded by images of happy families and children in the media and society, that when couples run into problems conceiving, it can feel like they’ve somehow let the whole of society down. Of course, this isn’t true, but our ingrained beliefs are notorious for making us think irrationally. Fertility troubles in men and women are overwhelmingly caused by physiological problems – something you have no control over. Blaming yourself only puts more strain on you and your partner, which is actually counterproductive to your efforts to get pregnant.
Focus on what you can control
If you’ve only been battling to get pregnant for a few months, there’s little need to start worrying yet. Even if it’s been a little longer, especially if you or your partner is slightly older, addressing some simple lifestyle issues is the best place to start. Sometimes simple, logical steps like making sure you’re eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruit and veggies, getting sufficient sleep and moderate exercise, and quitting smoking and drinking are all it takes – and as an added benefit, these will all help you cope with stress better if you do need to look at fertility treatment, and make you healthier parents to boot! If you’re still experiencing problems, then it’s time to get proactive. Seeking professional advice isn’t easy (especially for guys!) but it helps to remember you’re part of a team, and you’re not in this alone.
If you’ve been trying for 3 to 12 months, first set up an appointment with your GP or gynecologist to find out when you’re ovulating, as battling to get pregnant may just be a case of bad timing. There are also over the counter and prescription drugs which can interfere with male and female fertility, so you’ll want to rule out these obvious causes first.
If you’ve been battling to conceive for more than 12 months, then the next step is to get in touch with a fertility clinic and get a fertility assessment done for both partners. Working with a great fertility treatment clinic that has specially trained counselors on hand to provide support every step of the way and explain all your options in easy to understand language can be invaluable.
Acknowledge your emotions
Men and women alike tend to try and gloss over the pain they’re experiencing when they encounter fertility troubles and put on a brave face for their friends and family. The truth is that learning you might not be able to have children of your own can be one of the most upsetting events you’ll ever experience. It’s a big deal and acknowledging the magnitude of the issue and your emotions is vital if you’re going to be able to cope.
If you decide to pursue IVF or other treatments, or go through the process of finding a sperm or egg donor, you’re going to have to be in a stable enough emotional state to be able to deal with the process. That means being ready to ask for help when you need it.
Be open about what you’re going through with friends and family if you can. For others, making use of external support groups, online messaging boards, professional counseling or therapy can be easier than opening up to those closer to you because you’re reluctant to upset them. Whatever you do, remember that feeling sad, stressed out, overwhelmed, and even angry is perfectly normal and understandable.
Consider all your other options
Even if it turns out you can’t have your own biological children, it’s still not the end of the road. Your fertility has no impact whatsoever on your ability to love! Adopting or fostering a child who has no-one to take care of them can be just as life-changing, affirming and rewarding as having your own.