Infertility: The Silent Epidemic on Relationships
For every ten couples that try to conceive, at least one will struggle with infertility. This means that someone you know either has, is, or will be experiencing difficulty conceiving. Yet, as common as it is, infertility is still a taboo topic among many social circles.
It’s not that people don’t care; it’s that people don’t know it’s happening. Even if the couple has been explicit about their struggle, their friendships and family dynamics suffer from confusion, lack of knowledge, or the fear of being either too sensitive or not interested enough. Regardless of the situation, the bottom line is that most couples feel very alone in their fertility struggles.
Many people don’t know that the causes behind infertility are equally split: with one-third originating with the male partner, one-third with the female, and one-third either shared or unexplained. What’s even more shocking, is that 60% of all infertility cases are actually “secondary infertility,” when the family is experiencing difficulty conceiving after already having a successful pregnancy.
As you can imagine, couples experiencing secondary infertility not only endure the hardship and emotional challenges of waiting on a baby, but they are also tormented by the questions and judgments of others who can’t understand why they aren’t simply grateful for the child they already have. Unfortunately, while many outsiders are well intentioned with their input, oftentimes the advice and encouragement they offer is belittling the significance that the role of infertility is playing in the couple’s world.
Couples need extra support throughout a season of infertility, whether it’s their first pregnancy or their fifth. The roller coaster of emotions plays out two weeks at a time, either waiting for ovulation or waiting to take another pregnancy test. If the couple has chosen to move forward with fertility treatments, the intensity of the day-to-day stress can be even greater, magnified by the reminders of taking medication, receiving injections, or making appointments with healthcare providers.
The stresses of infertility can exaggerate other aspects of the couple’s life as well. Work might seem harder, friendships can feel strained, finances can get stretched, and sex can become another to-do on the checklist of things to help meet a goal. It’s easy for life to feel fragmented, rigid, and unfair. Within these constraints, many couples get frustrated and tend to turn their fears inward, blaming either themselves or each other in the midst of what should be a journey that unites their strengths instead of exposing their weaknesses.
Couples have the opportunity in this season to take advantage of this fragility. While the circumstances may be unwanted, infertility offers a unique time to allow the couple a new look at who they are as individuals and what they bring to their union as they prepare for expansion. The vulnerability that infertility forces upon a couple can also be a tool in creating a deeper connection.
Infertility doesn’t have to steal joy from a couple’s relationship. Instead of combating with the stresses that surface, couples can learn to channel it into effective communication that will deepen their connection amidst the hardship.
This moment in their timeline will not last forever, and it doesn’t need to be futile. In fact, this gift of time can be utilized to uncover new strengths that the couple never would have been able to witness if it weren’t for their current struggle.
Ready Nest Counseling wants to help couples make the most of this time in their relationship. Waiting is hard, and in the midst of the struggle, it’s important to know how to surround each couple with the right support at the right time. From grief and perseverance to intimacy and self-esteem, Ready Nest Counseling can help couples explore the topics that are unique to their situation, developing hope and wellness that brings their shared goal into focus.
As a couple journeys through the various seasons of infertility, conception, pregnancy, or post-partum, they can rediscover a love that prepares them for the family they desire to become. Each step of this process requires emotional energy and an investment of love that will return to them tenfold as their life unfolds. It’s not easy. It’s rarely comfortable. But, creating bonds that last forever are always worthwhile.
Emily Pardy is a counselor and founder of Ready Nest Counseling in Nashville, TN. Ready Nest Counseling helps couples prepare for parenthood by caring for their relational wellness as they transition through conception, pregnancy, post-partum, and infertility. Emily has written for multiple parenting publications including Thriving Family magazine and ParentLife magazine. She has her Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy from Lipscomb University and is the author of For All Maternity, a humorous memoir of her own journey into motherhood. Emily resides in Nashville, TN with her husband and three children.