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Infertility: Emotional and Social Concerns - Topic Overview

Infertility is a major life crisis for many couples. It may affect self-esteem, body image, sexual identity, life goals, and sexual relations. When faced with the possibility or diagnosis of infertility, you may experience a broad range of emotions, including:

  • Initial disbelief and denial followed by anger and grief.
  • Loss of control.
  • Guilt and blame. Finding out that one partner is infertile can place strain on a relationship.
  • Increased stress, particularly if treatment requires frequent testing and intercourse on a schedule.
  • Monthly cycles of hopeful anticipation followed by depression when menstruation begins.
  • Feelings of isolation. A desire for secrecy often can isolate a couple from support systems such as friends and family during a time of great stress. Counseling and infertility support groups provide vital assistance for many couples.

Social exchanges and situations may be painful when you see others with babies or are asked about your plans for having children. Having family members who are expecting children may contribute to your feelings of stress, as may parents wanting grandchildren to continue the family lineage.

Recommended Related to Infertility & Reproduction

Infertility and Men

Although some people still think of fertility as a "woman's problem," a third of all cases of infertilty involve problems solely with the male partner. Infertility in a man may be the sole reason that a couple can't conceive, or it may simply add to the difficulties caused by infertility in his partner. So it's crucial that men get tested for fertility as well as women. It's also important that men do it early. Though some guys may want to put off being tested -- possibly to avoid embarrassment...

Read the Infertility and Men article > >

Getting support

When you have a long-term health problem, you may feel alone, confused, or scared. But you are not alone. Other people are going through the same thing you are and know how you feel.

Talking with others about your feelings can help you feel better.

  • Family and friends: Family and friends can help you cope by giving you comfort and encouragement.
  • Counseling: Professional counseling can help you cope with situations that interfere with your life and cause stress. Counseling can help you understand and deal with your illness.
  • Your doctor: Find a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with. Be open and honest about your fears and concerns. Your doctor can help you get the right medical treatments, including counseling.
  • Spiritual or religious groups: Spiritual or religious groups can provide comfort and may be able to help you find counseling or other social support services.
  • Social groups: Social groups can help you meet new people and get involved in activities you enjoy.
  • Community support groups: In a support group, you can talk to others who have dealt with the same problems or illness as you. You can encourage one another and learn ways of coping with tough emotions.

Find a support group

Look for a support group that works for you. Ask yourself if you prefer structure and would like a group leader, or if you would like a less formal group. Do you prefer face-to-face meetings, or do you feel more secure in Internet chat rooms or forums?

  • Ask your doctor, counselor, or other health professional for suggestions.
  • Contact your local church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious group.
  • Ask your family and friends.
  • Ask people who have the same condition.
  • Contact a city, state, or national group that provides support for the condition. Your library, community center, or phone book may have a list of these groups.
  • Use the Internet. Forums and blogs let you read messages from others and leave your own messages. You can exchange stories, vent your frustrations, and ask and answer questions.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 07, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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