Infertility normally relates to the failure to become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected regular sex every few days. The purpose of this paper is to take an in depth look at the impact that infertility has on a couple. Elements that are covered include addressing the financial, emotional, cultural, social and relationship intimacy impact. I also discuss the type of support that I can provide to help such couples, in my capacity of a nurse. Further, I note the national resources that are available for couples struggling with infertility.
When patients are told that they are infertile, they frequently go through normal, yet nevertheless stressful emotions. These are on a per with others who are also suffering from a significant loss. Their reactions incorporate: “shock, grief, depression, anger, and frustration, as well as loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and a sense of control over one’s destiny” (Getz, 2009).
One of the major impacts of infertility is that relationships can suffer. This includes the woman’s main relationship which is with her partner or husband, and vice versa, as well as the couple’s relationship with members of the family and friends. In fact, on a social level, couples who are experiencing infertility could even stop seeing families they know, if they have children, as well as pregnant friends. The couple may also have difficulty with sexual dysfunction due to their anxiety and other problems, and this can have a huge impact on their intimacy (Getz, 2009).
In regard to financial worries, just fifteen states authorize coverage for infertility treatment through insurance. Moreover, the scope of coverage is variable. “Costs of infertility treatments are significant. The average cost for an IVF cycle using fresh embryos, for example, is $8,158, with an additional $3,000 to $5,000 per cycle for fertility drugs” (Getz, 2009). When it comes to patients who do not have this medical cover, or the funds to finance it themselves, not being able to do anything about their situation can result in feelings of being completely helpless (Getz, 2009).
Research and case reports utilizing self-reporting methods show that patients who are infertile, suffer from greater distress than others. Patients could experience mental health issues on a temporary basis as they try to cope with the physical and emotional ups and downs that are all part of undergoing treatment for this disorder (Getz, 2009).
Marni Rosner, a psychotherapist based in NYC, conducted research on fertility. This highlighted the point: “that infertility can have a profound impact on identity. [She stated] “First and most obviously, there is the disruption to the expected developmental shift to parenthood,” noting that females frequently start to think of themselves as being moms way before the time they try to conceive a baby. Being subject to the cultural ideals set by society, when they see that they are unable to fulfill this normal part of being a woman, it can make them question their womanly role, and jeopardize their perceived future (Getz, 2009).
On top of this, Rosner noted that they can be challenged when they are surrounded by pregnant friends, and peers with young children. This is because through their children, moms and dads frequently connect with each other and become friends. This can lead to the woman who is suffering from infertility feeling denounced and segregated due to not having any children. She could also feel guilty regarding being unable to provide a child and grandson or granddaughter. And could even feel uncertain about her place in her family of descent (Getz, 2009).
When attending celebration days such as birthdays, or other social gatherings, couples without children may regard remarks by other people that are well meaning, as being negative. Although, on the bright side, they may also see that people they are close to, give them the much needed support they need. With some close friends and relatives enabling the couple to take part in the children’s world by letting them look after their own sons and daughters on occasions. This can include or accompanying them to music lessons, sports activities, and school, for instance (Robertson, 2015).
A woman’s self-esteem can severely plummet, and those who enjoyed planned and successful lives, are unexpectedly faced with the thought of losing control of the destiny that they had always envisaged. The compounding factors of their body not being able to produce a child as anticipated, the feeling that their life has been paused; and their need to deal with the letdown of not successfully conceiving for months on end, can mean that each partner has an elevated risk of depression (Robertson, 2015).
The best and most comprehensive national resources that are available for couples struggling with infertility include: The US Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Women’s Health, and The American Pregnancy Association. They have up to date information on all the aspects relating to infertility, and can serve as a great help to those who are seeking answers and advice.
In summary, there are many negatives than can affect couples who suffer from infertility. These issues need to be addressed by an appropriate healthcare practitioner before they become worse, and patients should be referred by nurses such as myself. I would also refer patients to the toe websites I have cited.
- Getz, Lindsey (2009). “The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment.” Social Work Today. Vol. 12 No. 6 P. 30. November/December 2012 Issue. Retrieved from http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/111312p30.shtml
- Robertson (2015). “Infertility Social Impact.” News Medical Life Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Infertility-Social-Impact.aspx