If you are in a relationship, infertility is impacting both you and your partner—regardless of whether the diagnosis is male-factor, female-factor, a combination of factors, or unexplained. You will both ride the roller coaster of emotions and you will each have your own response in your own time.
Ouch. Those words pack a punch. It took me nearly 10 years to actually say them aloud. And this was after I'd visited several ob/gyns completely bewildered by my lack of conception success, not to mention at least three fertility clinics complete with brag boards showcasing the babies they'd help create.
Mental health experts advise that the younger your child is when you begin talking about donor conception, the easier it is for both parent(s) and child. While many parents begin this conversation with their toddlers, any time before age five is ideal. The key is to use simple, language, a calm, positive tone, and relaxed body language. “We made you with the help of another woman’s egg/man’s seed,” can be a good start for toddlers.
Deciding whether to stop treatment is really difficult. Not only do you have to grieve the loss of the biological child you dreamed for, but you are also faced with what to do next. Will you remain childfree or will you consider other family building options? Some people stay in treatment because they can not face these questions or because they disagree with their partner about whether to end treatment or pursue other options.
Things to Consider
The following are some questions to consider as you think about stopping treatment:
Infertility treatments can continue for months or years. It’s common to go from one treatment cycle to the next, and that can really sap your energy (not to mention your bank account). Work and social events often play second fiddle to your treatment schedule.
Infertility can be a lonely experience when friends are having children and you are still trying. People who mean to be supportive often say the most unhelpful things. But you probably know that – you’re probably frustrated (or angry or sad) each time you get invited to a baby shower; and most likely you’ve been on the receiving end of those “just relax” comments. So joining a group where your feelings and frustrations will be understood, and where you’ll become empowered as a patient, may be just what you need.
Many women (and men) find therapy to be a great resource when dealing with the roller coaster that is infertility. Chances are, at one point or another during your infertility/treatment you’ve experienced one or more of the following:
Lack of appetite
Inability to concentrate
Bouts of crying or anger
Feelings of hopelessness
But if these thoughts and feelings linger, you should consider seeing a therapist.
Studies have shown that the levels of depression and anxiety in infertile women are comparable to levels in cancer patients. And despite the fact that one in six women and their partners have infertility, unfortunately there’s still a great deal of unnecessary shame and secrecy surrounding it.