The resounding silence tightly hugs her as the ink on the paper blots out from the overflowing droplets of tears. The report, once again, is negative. The long sneers at family dinners, sly comments, and curt replies intercept her genuine attempts at breaking the ice. During a short visit, her mother-in-law likened her to a man, which was very far from a compliment. These are words many women with infertility issues can easily relate to.
But it’s not like the husband is left out of this stigma. There have been countless cases of embarrassing comments. Topping the list is the one that echoes that he’s not “man enough,”–– meaning he’s impotent. And those who believe the problem could never be on his side advise that he “better get another woman and fast.”
When the curtains close and the impact of the world’s undue pressure has come to rest on both their shoulders, they fight twice as much not to become strangers to each other because slowly, they are becoming shadows of themselves. Although they are fighting hard to maintain a united front, the comments slowly attack their strength, and they are slowly becoming unrecognizable even to each other.
The effects of infertility on your mental health are undeniable. Whether it’s societal, family, spousal, or individual pressure, there’s always something tugging at your sanity as patience thins out day by day.
Major types of infertility
Specifying these isn’t to bombard you with knowledge but for clarity purposes.
- Primary infertility: Inability to have any children.
- Secondary infertility: Inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term following the birth of one or more children.
“When are we expecting the next baby?” “Don’t wait too long; time is not on your side.” And the passive-aggressive ones say: “Remember, the earlier, the better.” One would think that a person who already has one child might escape societal scrutiny, but that’s not the case. Though things are changing, this has always been a part of the culture, especially in Black communities. Everyone is committed to being in everyone’s business, and the unintended outcome is undue mental stress which could lead to mental illness.
Common causes of infertility in both men and women
There’s no treatment without a diagnosis. Experiencing the trauma that comes with infertility is almost inevitable as it requires countless sober reflections and recurring visits to fertility clinics to get to the root cause and cure. According to research, these are some of the common causes of infertility.
- Hormonal imbalance
- Partial or complete blockage of Fallopian tubes
- Ovulation disorders
- Environmental factors/lifestyle choices
- Womb damage
- Disruption of sperm maturation.
- Obstruction of the vas deferens.
- Environmental factors/lifestyle choices
- Testicular damage
What are the effects of infertility on your mental health?
It’s not surprising that there are so many illnesses that stem from an unhappy mind. The mind-body connection is real, and that’s why protecting your energy and repelling bad vibes is an absolute must, especially in this day and time. Although infertility isn’t a disease in itself, there are many ways pressure, marital conflicts, money worries, and medications can affect one’s mental state. Treatment of infertility is very intensive and costly, coupled with the drugs’ side effects; these could only worsen the situation.
Stated below are a few of the possible effects of infertility on your mental health but are not limited to these:
- Relationship issues with spouse and family/friends that keep offering unsolicited “well-meaning” advice
- Sexual dysfunction
- Grief, especially from miscarriages and stillbirths
- Thinking problems
Here are 7 ways to cope with the effects of infertility on your mental health
#1. Improve your lifestyle
As much as lifestyle choices might not cause most infertility cases, there’s still a percentage affected by smoking, drinking, and stress. Try eating healthy, exercising moderately, avoiding alcohol, discontinue drugs that influence infertility, not being exposed to radiation, and getting enough rest. Similar lifestyle choices would leave you a healthier person, eventually increasing your chances of fertility.
#2. Avoid substance abuse
One of the effects of infertility on your mental health is the urge to suppress volatile emotions with alcohol and/or hard drugs. Create systems in place to help reduce the temptation of substance abuse. For example, do not stock up on alcohol; this might increase your alcohol intake.
#3. Focus on you for a minute
Take time off to do what you love or create new and exciting hobbies. Meditate and stop judging yourself—-it’s not your fault. Revive your social life; this isn’t the right time to isolate yourself and become gloomy. If you’re used to getting so many questions about your present situation (which is normal), plan possible answers to prevent being caught off guard. Hang out with friends, invite friends over, volunteer, etc.
#4. Bridge the communication gap with your partner
At this point, sex is now more focused on procreation than anything else. The couple becomes too conscious trying to make babies that communication and intimacy suffer. Have that talk with your partner, address the elephant in the room and seek to rid yourselves of resentment. Your partner isn’t the enemy; stop fighting each other. This period in your lives could create long-lasting bonds that’ll strengthen the relationship if you both remain as a team.
#5. Do things couples with children can’t do
Be spontaneous; that’s one thing couples with children can’t do without a few hitches here and there. One of the effects of infertility on your mental health is the ability to drain your joy and isolate you. Go on dates, check into a hotel, travel, go on roller coaster rides, spark up your sex life and visit the beach at sunset. Whatever exciting things you can add to the list, bring it on. Y.O.L.O.
#6. Reach a resolution together
No one indeed wants to come to terms with the fact that they cannot have children of their own, especially if that’s a burning desire but trying to weigh other options doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve caved in to pressure, but it’s helpful to be more open-minded. Couples begin to explore options like adoption, surrogacy, IVF, or even deciding to build a life without children. These are difficult resolutions that a couple would ultimately have to make to eventually ensure mental peace and happiness.
#7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This can be a challenging time and can pose a significant threat to your peace of mind. To handle the effects of infertility on your mental health, you would need a support system. It could be a friend, family member, or a therapist. A safe place where you can speak your truth without judgment is a tremendous step towards growth.
These are challenging moments that won’t last forever, but we understand that their effects might linger. Be careful not to trample on your partner’s self-worth and dampen your self-esteem as well. Try to raise your head above the waters; this too shall pass.
Cover photo: Instagram | @asiko
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