Emma began to exhibit serious symptoms of depression. She was often tearful, hopeless, irritable and withdrawn. She began to isolate from friends, family, and even Jonathan. She felt deep shame about her inability to conceive and began to question her own womanhood. Emma was barely recognizable…both physically and emotionally. She looked drawn and tired from lack of sleep and regular nutrition. Her once bubbly exterior was replaced by a deep sadness and disconnection. Jonathan, on the other hand, had assumed the role of cheerleader. He remained optimistic and hopeful and believed that positivity was a key ingredient in successfully conceiving. He grew frustrated at Emma’s negativity and hopelessness. He felt rejected and angry when he reached out for her emotionally and sexually and she refused to respond. Emma began to feel Jonathan simply didn’t understand, didn’t want it as much as her. How could he want sex outside of sex that was aimed at baby-making? How could be positive, even cheerful at times, when things were so awful? She started to feel she was in it alone. And so did he. Both withdrew from eachother. Sexual and emotional intimacy came to a halt. As did communication. The once vibrant couple were now disconnected and miserable.
Infertility. Defined as: sterility: the state of being unable to produce offspring; in a woman it is an inability to conceive; in a man it is an inability to impregnate. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term.
The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination (INCIID) recognizes a couple as infertile if they have not conceived after 6 months of unprotected intercourse, or after 12 months if the woman is over 35 years of age; or if there is an inability to carry pregnancy to term.
Infertility is painfully pervasive in the United States. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility impacts approximately 6.1 million people in the U.S., equivalent to ten percent of the reproductive age population. Female infertility accounts for one third of infertility cases, male infertility for another third, combined male and female infertility for another 15%, and the remainder of the cases is "unexplained".
The struggle with infertility is a messy process….endless trips to specialist after specialist, intensive research to uncover the latest or most successful treatment approaches, and ongoing procedures involving injections and extractions. The process starts to look and feel like an interminable clinical exercise, a protracted science project.
But behind this frenetic quest for parenthood is an immeasurable world of emotional pain. The psychological toll that this devastating journey takes on those going through it is frequently lost, even ignored amidst the chaos of the medical procedures and relentless pursuit of pregnancy. Individuals engaged in this struggle are suffering with symptoms as painful as the infertility itself—debilitating sadness, anxiety, grief, shame, rage, isolation, and hopelessness.
Individuals who are struggling with infertility are suffering. Psycholgoically.