Battling the Stigma of Infertility

5 Ways to Cope with the Stigma of Infertility 

 

In today's world, people can face stigmas about a wide array of issues, including mental illness, job loss and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, there is also a lingering stigma attached to infertility, especially for women. Infertility treatments can add another layer of difficulty, including side-effects, anxiety and more. Read on to learn how couples can cope with infertility in today’s modern world.

Understand the source. Much of the stigma of infertility stems from the origins of infertility. Throughout history, it was common for people to blame a woman's inability to get pregnant on psychological insufficiencies. This view persisted until the 1950s when medical advances exposed the true causes of infertility. Another reason for the stigma relates to how society values fertility. This view can be traced back thousands of years to ancient times when men were actually able to swap out wives if they couldn't bear children. Even one of Rome's most celebrated deities was deemed the goddess of fertility.

Accept the way it makes you feel. In modern society, couples are expected to reproduce, and there is a big difference between a woman who chooses not to have children and one who can't. If you are experiencing infertility, you may feel anger towards your body. You might also feel guilt and shame, especially if you think you are letting your partner down. You might even feel that you are less than "a real woman" or experience sorrow when you see young children or jealousy when you see pregnant women. You might even develop depression or anxiety, especially if you've tried fertility treatments without success. Whatever you're feeling, it's important to accept and recognize your feelings instead of living in a state of denial.

Reach out. When women are coping with infertility, they can feel alone and misunderstood, especially if they are surrounded by friends, cousins or siblings who all have kids. It's important to reach out for support from people who can offer a compassionate ear. This could be a qualified therapist or a support group of other women grappling with similar issues. Whatever the case, a good support network can help you cope with involuntary childlessness and feel less isolated as you work toward accepting your situation. 

Empower yourself. One of the best ways to overcome the stigma of infertility is to look for ways to eliminate uncertainty and get more control over the situation. This could mean exploring adoption or infertility treatment options, such as assisted reproductive technologies. It could also mean visiting a therapist for chronic stress, depression and low self-esteem. For some, it helps to courageously share their stories with friends and family to help educate them about the realities of infertility and diminish the stigma that continues to persist in society.

Don't stigmatize yourself. It can be difficult to avoid internalizing the stigma of infertility, especially when you are confronted with daily reminders. People may ask when you and your partner are finally going to have kids. They may also offer unsolicited recommendations and superstitions for getting pregnant. It can be hard to politely navigate these interactions without feeling worse after each one. Try to remember that you are not alone and not responsible for your infertility. If things start to feel overwhelming, reach out to a trusted friend, family member or therapist to express your feelings.

The caring therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you overcome life’s greatest challenges. Contact us today!