Infertility and Intimacy: How the Emotional Toll of Infertility Affects your Relationship

For most couples, raising a family is part of the All-American Dream. For couples who want children, pregnancy and birth are both joyous events. Trying for a baby can be fun and exciting, but when infertility enters the equation, the emotional toll can have a negative impact on your relationship. While some men are sure to experience negative emotions, rather it is they or their partner who suffers from infertility, the focus of this article is the emotional toll and subsequent effects suffered by women. Because the female body is engineered to carry and birth the babies, for many women, suffering from infertility does not negate that motherly instinct or the ticking of the biological clock. In fact, infertility can often make the desire for a child much stronger.


Why Does the Matter have to be so Complicated? What about Adoption and Other Alternatives?


While this is certainly a valid question worth much consideration, the fact of the matter is far more complicated than merely saying, “Oh, well, we can just try something else,” for most couples.  For one thing, there is that biological clock issue. Men and women are no different from the majority of animals and organisms in their desire to reproduce. For women, the experience of pregnancy and childbirth is an important aspect in both their feelings about themselves as a “complete” woman, and in their role as a mother. Some women are able to overcome this, but many are not.

Furthermore, alternatives just are not always as feasible as we would often like them to be. Adoption, surrogacy, in vitro and other fertility treatments cost a lot of money, and there is not always a guarantee of success. While adoption is quite possibly the most logical alternative for starting a family, money and mountains of red tape make even this option a formidable one. While foster care is certainly the more affordable route, it’s a tough decision for couple still, given the fact that many children will come and go before there is ever an opportunity to adopt, if at all. Because the alternatives are not always viable, many couples still hang onto the hope that someday a successful pregnancy will occur and their dreams of parenthood will come true.


Infertility, Emotions, and Intimacy


Whether trying for the first time, or experiencing infertility after already having had a child or two, infertility and relationships is a tough realty to face. Many women become almost obsessed with trying to become pregnant, and when it does not work after a while, they become depressed, frustrated, angry, and ready to give up. Infertility and emotions caused by this heartache often lead to a lack of interest in sex and intimacy. When this occurs, it is likely because sex has become more of a tool for pregnancy rather than a special form of bonding between the couple. When your natural desire for your partner ceases because of fertility problems, it is time to seek counseling and to re-evaluate your options and priorities.


There is nothing wrong with the desire for parenthood. However, the reality of the matter is that this desire should not dictate your relationship. When sex and intimacy become “work”, it is no fun for either partner and both are sure to feel empty and wanting. Infertility can be overcome, either by embracing alternatives or by accepting the fact that you may never have children or another child if you already have one or two. Allowing your relationship to falter because of a biological issue that is often beyond your control really is not worth it.

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