In Canada, approximately 1 in 7 couples (or ~15% of women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy (2012). Despite these relatively high statistics, trying to navigate the waters of infertility can be an overwhelming and tiring process.
Loneliness is a common feeling that can compound an already difficult situation, along with degrees of anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, excessive worrying, and reduced sexual satisfaction. Consequently, infertility can be isolating, even when surrounded by the support of loving friends and family. For the person dealing with the emotions of wanting a child and the difficulties in creating one, coping with those feelings of loneliness can be a heavy burden. Despite the fact that most cases of infertility affecting couples in Western societies progress to fertility clinics for treatment, infertility is often experienced as a lonely road for affected couples.
While couples facing treatment options may have privately accepted the reality of their situation, acknowledging it to the world, should they choose to, can be intimidating. Lowering their shield of protection and sharing their struggles can be exceedingly uncomfortable. That said, many opt to keep their struggle to conceive completely private, believing that they only need each other for support as “only they are the ones going through it.” Unfortunately, this self-protective and logical approach, can eventually lead to further isolation and depression.
The good news is you are NOT alone in this quest, there is a strong COMMUNITY around you and they are several tips to help lessen the intensity of loneliness while dealing with infertility:
- Acknowledging the loneliness you are feeing. Everyone’s journey is a personal one and in recognizing how you are feelings first-and-foremost, you can get honest about the next steps you want to take.
- Find someone to talk to. In confiding with family member, a close friend or co-worker, you may realize that your burdens are not the heaviest and that there is a universality to human struggle. You may also be surprised to find others going through very similar situations. There are also plenty of infertility support groups that allow for cathartic open dialogue. Once we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to each other, we see that we are truly not alone. That said, if this sounds like way too much for you and confidentiality is a priority, seek out a Therapist to get the conversation flowing.
- See an Acupuncturist or Naturopath. Both modalities have shown great successes in balancing the body, mind and spirit during challenging times.
- Do Yoga, Pilates or Meditation. These are great ways to lessen some of the burden you’re carrying and alleviate the emotional stress that comes with it.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you find ways to help cope through this journey. Whatever route you choose to take should focus on relieving stress, calming your mind and helping to restore a semblance of balance. Fertility treatments are deeply emotional and need to be treated with full respect and care. Navigating the lonely and at times difficult path to parenthood is not an easy one. How and when we begin to process the associated loneliness will depend entirely on us.
Busknik, Cook, Yuzpe, Tough and Collins. “Estimating the prevalence of infertility in Canada. Human Reproduction.” Journal of Human Reproduction, 2012 Mar; 27(3): 738-746.
Gonzalez, LO. “Infertility as a transformational process: a framework for psychotherapeutic support of infertile women.” Issues Ment Health Nurs, 2000, 21(6): 619-633.
IVFAustralia. “Our current costs.” 2011, http://www.ivf.com.au/ivf-treatment-costs/our-current-costs.aspx.