The Pain of Infertility
Are you ready to have a baby and finding the excitement is palpable? I’ve experienced the expectancy to see that double line show up on the home pregnancy test and I know the disappointment that accompanies a negative result. Unfortunately, for many people, the excruciating pain of amassing negative results is common. When this happens, it can take a toll on their mental health.
Infertility is the reality for approximately 19% of married couples in North America and 17.5% of the adult population worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 women with no prior births are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying.
Raising Infertility Awareness
In general, infertility is the diagnosis given in cases when conception (the ability to get pregnant), has not occurred after one year or longer of unprotected sex. To recognize and highlight this issue, National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was established in 1989 by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
NIAW falls on the last full week of April, just before Mother’s Day in May. NIAW was established to reduce stigma and educate the public about reproductive health and the issues that make building a family difficult for many people.
Infertility is a complex situation for those who are diagnosed, while for others, getting pregnant is ‘as easy as falling off a log.’ If you’ve ever tried to walk on a fallen tree log, you understand this expression. Anger, frustration, self-blame, self-hate, low self-esteem, grief, and depression are all issues that can stem from the inability to conceive.
Infertility stigma is a phenomenon associated with various psychological and social tensions surrounding reproduction. This stigma is often connected with feeling ashamed and unworthy and can threaten psychosocial well-being along with self-esteem. The feeling of being compared to others in society and being contrary to social norms has the potential to cause significant mental health issues. This can include:
- Feelings of guilt
- Stress on the relationship
Although infertility affects both sexes, the stigma around it is most often associated with women. Regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or economic status, infertility can strike without remorse.
Tips For Navigating Infertility
Furthermore, if you have experienced the privilege of parenthood you are most likely oblivious to the challenges associated with infertility. It often seems logical if you have children to ask others what their plans for children are. However, without knowing, a well-meaning question or objective probing can cut to the heart of those who have been unsuccessful with pregnancy. Maybe you have been guilty of this yourself?
Here are some tips for supporting someone struggling with infertility:
1. The unexpected news of pregnancy should come from those expecting.
That way, you will spare individuals any additional pain who may be struggling with infertility. Therefore, wait for people to share and volunteer information rather than ask or probe.
2. Someone else’s family planning is their family planning, not yours.
Therefore, it may seem obvious but asking newly married couples, friends, or even family members what their plans are for having children isn’t any of your business.
3. Talk about the child people do have, not the one they don’t.
It’s common to think infertility is not an issue for those who may already have a child. Therefore, a question like, “When are you planning on another?’ can seem harmless. Unfortunately, there are many causes of infertility and it can strike anyone at any time, even if they have had children previously.
4. Infertility is a very personal thing.
If someone trusts you enough to share their infertility journey, support them. Be that person who diffuses questions about having children or changes the subject if conversations in public settings become awkward. Nonchalant comments and questions from well-meaning people or family members only add to the sadness and stress of someone suffering from infertility so be supportive when needed.
Observing National Infertility Week
Rock something orange
Show solidarity with those struggling with infertility by wearing something orange. According to the organization RESOLVE, orange promotes a sense of wellness, emotional energy, compassion, passion, and warmth.
Join an awareness walk
DIY Walk of Hope is a fundraising event held in many communities throughout the country to show support and raise awareness of infertility. The event represents the family-building journey—a series of small steps, each one filled with hope and a reminder that no one with infertility should walk alone. For information on where to walk or to establish a walk in your community, you can check out the DIY Walk of Hope website.
Post something on social media
Spread awareness about infertility and the effects of stigmas on our loved ones. Share your personal story or the story of someone close to you and promote the week using the hashtag #NationalInfertilityAwarenessWeek.
We Are Here to Help
Lastly, if you are experiencing negative feelings and/or mental health issues surrounding infertility, Online-Therapy.com is here to support you. When you sign up to work with Online-Therapy.com you get to choose a therapist you feel comfortable with, and you can develop a personalized approach that supports your needs to bring about the changes you desire.
At Online-Therapy.com we offer an integrated and holistic approach to wellness and wholeness. Our platform includes regular sessions with a therapist via phone, text chat or video, worksheet support, journaling, and yoga. Our ongoing support means you have access to the professional advice you need every day, guiding you to better mental health and wellness.
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