Dealing with Infertility
We tend to picture pregnancy as one of the most happy, momentous and exciting times in life. And while for most it is, unfortunately the heartbreaking reality is this isn’t the case for everyone. With about one in six Australian couples experiencing fertility issues, it’s far more common than you might think. But as infertility is such a difficult and emotionally challenging topic to discuss, those who suffer often do so in silence. Here at Libra, we strongly believe that needs to change; the awareness of infertility needs to be raised, and the stigma needs to go.
What is Infertility?
A couple is considered to have a problem with fertility if they’re unable to conceive after 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse. The cause of infertility isn’t always clear-cut. 40% of the time it’s related to a male factor, in another 40% it can be related to a female factor and for the remaining 20% the issue is either joint or unknown. However, despite where the issue stems from, it’s important to keep in mind that infertility is never anybody’s ‘fault’. Simply put, it’s an emotional roller coaster that many people sadly have to face.
What Causes Infertility?
While there are many different potential causes for problems with fertility, some of the most common ones are:
- Issues with the production of eggs or sperm, uterus or fallopian tubes
- Underlying health conditions, such as endometriosis
- Hormonal and autoimmune disorders in both men and women
- Experiencing frequent miscarriage
Depending on the cause, there are thankfully a number of different infertility treatments available for tackling issues when trying to conceive. These include:
- IVF treatments (aka ‘in vitro fertilization’), where eggs are fertilised by sperm in a medical lab
- Artificial insemination or IUI (‘intrauterine insemination’), a procedure where sperm is placed directly inside the uterus
- Prescription medication, to improve the production of eggs or sperm
- Fertility surgery
How To Cope with Infertility
First and foremost, anyone who has suffered from the stress of infertility needs to take time to process their emotions. Know that it’s okay to feel sad, to feel that life is unfair, and that it’s okay to grieve or not be okay. While the experience is different for everyone, the journey of infertility can be long and arduous. Throughout it all, it’s so important to acknowledge what you are feeling, and understand that every emotion is totally valid. Pregnancy doesn’t come easily for everyone, and there is absolutely no shame in that fact.
Since coping and surviving through such an uncertain time can surface deeper feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression, it’s vital to surround yourself with a solid support tribe. Remember: infertility isn’t something that you have to face alone. Along with qualified healthcare professionals, there are a wealth of resources available to support couples experiencing the heartache of fertility issues, such as the ACCESS Australia Support Network. And if you feel comfortable, seeking support from your friends and family can be a huge help, too. If you’re not sure how to approach them for support, we recommend:
- Talk when you’re ready
Choosing the right time and place to have the conversation that works for you, is key to avoid feeling uncomfortable, distracted or rushed! Decide beforehand what you do (and don’t) want to open up about. The amount of detail you want to share is completely up to you and your partner, depending on what you both feel comfortable with. Keep things simple and within your emotional limits.
- Be open about what you need
Letting them know how they can best support you. Your friends and family will want to know how they can be there for you! Whether that’s being there to lend an ear or to help alleviate some of life’s other stresses for you – don’t be afraid to speak up.
- Be honest about how you’re feeling
Being honest about your emotional capacity. Explain that you’ll keep them updated on your progress within your own time. Because they love and care about you, they may want to ask you lots of questions, however, be clear if this is too overwhelming for you.
- Be prepared for conversations and know your boundaries
Preparing for various comments and advice. Know that while your loved ones mean well, they may unintentionally overstep boundaries. It’s okay to let them know if they have, or to end the conversation there.
So when it comes to facing infertility, know that you don’t have to do it alone. You’ve got tonnes of professional resources at your fingertips, with a world of knowledge on how to cope and make it through. Never feel ashamed or afraid to ask for support, whether it’s from a trained professional, support group, or your family and friends. Remember that every single emotion that you experience in this journey is valid, and worthy of acknowledgment.
Love, Libra x
Anything else? Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.