Psychological Aspect of Infertility

Most of the couples undergoing infertility treatment define the treatment to have a child as a life event that requires great dedication both physically and emotionally. For this reason, it is important for couples to prepare for treatment not only physically but also mentally during the treatment period. Creating a suitable environment where couples can express their possible psychological needs and expectations is beneficial for the integrity and effectiveness of the treatment. Personality structure, outlook on life, how he/she perceives the infertility problem, especially the meaning of having a child determine the effect of the treatment process on the general mood. In addition, family structure, relationships with spouses and social environment constitute the environmental factors related to the subject.

Why do I want to have children?

The best thing that an individual can do for himself/herself and his future is to create a child. Having a child is also a continuation of the dream of a house with pink shutters. From birth, the eye of the individual always looks forward; being as a child then growing up, going to school when having grown up, having a job, getting married and having children are the important links of this series. Adding the rings to each other in turn increases the belief and confidence in life. Breakage of this ring can affect the self-confidence of the individual as well as his social position. Not being able to have children can lead to alienation from close friends and relatives from the natural environment. People may perceive this as a loss of social status. This situation can be perceived as personal failure.

Loss of the unborn child and the feeling of failure

One of the important factors that determine the structure of psychological effects is that one of the spouses sees himself/herself as a source of problem after the physical reasons for having a child are revealed. Not being able to have children can be perceived as a personal failure and generalized to all events. He/she may feel resentment and anger towards his/her own body.
It is difficult to share the loss of the unborn child with the close circle. This loss and mourning can be felt more deeply with the feeling of loneliness. Keeping expectations on the line between hope and hopelessness in each treatment period and the fact that these expectations can easily change according to the results of the examination can cause a wide variety of emotions such as anxiety, fear, anger, happiness, and joy to be experienced together. The inability to share these mutual feelings between the spouses may also become difficult over time, and as a result, the spouses may be left alone with the anger, anxiety, fear, or resentment they experience over time.
It is natural to experience estrangement in relations with the close circle during this period. Couples can sometimes become sensitive to news about the baby. This sensitivity is foreign to many couples. Individuals may feel guilty for feeling anger and jealousy towards their relatives.

Am i sick?

Infertility treatment creates a contradictory situation for couples. Individuals who feel healthy outside the treatment period become sick with treatment. This definition challenges many couples who want to have children. The treatment period is perceived as a separate period from normal life. With treatment, they may feel the feeling of losing control intensely and become more sensitive to reactions coming from the environment.

The most difficult period: Waiting

During the treatment period, one of the most important issues affecting individuals during physical interventions and examinations is waiting and the feeling of uncertainty that this process brings. Waiting and uncertainty; contain hope as well as despair. While every successful result leads to a positive light about having a child, a negative test result can have the opposite effect on the individual. In particular, providing psychological support during the waiting period contributes to a more comfortable period. The effects of the treatment period can be interpreted differently by the spouses.

Does it have a different effect on men and women?

Studies have shown that it has no gender difference among those who cannot have children. Although the intense feelings about not having a child were similar in both parties, it was observed that the way they were expressed, and the coping mechanisms used in this period were different. In other words, it has been determined that women experience more observable stress than men, that they want to share their problems with their spouses and close circles, and that they can express their emotional reactions more easily. It has been observed that men often give reactions such as withdrawal, estrangement, and denial. It has been determined that the similar perception of stress in harmonious relationships between spouses increases marital adjustment and the treatment process undergone more easily.

What are the factors that negatively affect the psychological state?

Factors related to the treatment applied may adversely affect the individuals receiving treatment. The duration of the treatment, its reason, how often and how many times it is treated, what kind of treatment is applied, the success of the treatment are important factors that affect people when starting a new treatment. At the same time, it plays an active role in determining the need for psychological support. Having children before affects the level of stress experienced by individuals.

Will stress affect my treatment negatively?

Considering the effect of stress on life, whereas it is thought that it is closely related to the problem of infertility, but studies show that stress has no direct effect on infertility. On the other hand, the same studies indicate that infertility problem can cause stress. Depending on the general definition of infertility, whereas stress can be experienced chronically, short-term stress may also be experienced due to applications and test results during treatment. In particular, it was determined that the stress rates were higher in couples in whom the treatment was repeated more than once. Stress during the treatment process is experienced most during the waiting period after embryo transfer. Another factor that creates stress is trying not to be stressed. Couples sometimes feel the stress and guilt of being stressed.

How can infertility affect my sex life?

The constructive and restorative effect of sexuality for couples is abandoned with treatment. Sexual intercourse turns into a task that must be done at certain times rather than satisfaction. Sexual dissatisfaction can negatively affect the couple’s natural interaction. Couples can become alienated from sex.

How can infertility affect a couple’s relationship?

Like every life crisis, the inability to have children affects the interaction between couples. Considering the psychological reactions of the couples in the face of this situation, it can be observed that the spouses have become very close to each other (harmonious union) or that they find themselves in a serious relationship problem (hostile union). Couples who prefer a harmonious union perceive the negative aspects of the relationship as threatening and do not bring any negative feelings and thoughts into the relationship. In other words, the normal family is compatible and infertility treatment is the enemy of this happy picture. On the other hand, couples living in a hostile relationship lose the positive aspects of the relationship and think about possible problems in the relationship as the reason for their inability to have children. Thus, having a child becomes the savior of the relationship.

What is the goal of psychological support for couples in infertility?

The main goal of psychological support for couples who cannot have children is to provide psychosocial support for the problem they experience, rather than psychological treatment, and especially to work on how to cope with the stress they experience. The most important reason, why the psychological reactions caused by not having a child are generally similar, is because every couple has natural reactions to which they can present. Psychological support aims to minimize the effects of this period on the individual.
The meaning of the problem they experience may be different for each couple. Therefore, the individual’s culture, social structure and psychosocial intervention methods are taken into consideration in psychological support studies. Information is obtained on subjects such as how the individual perceives the sense of uncertainty created by the definition of infertility, the experience of loss, the coping mechanisms used during the crisis, and communication with the spouse.
In the studies, besides the individual study goals, it is also aimed to increase the communication skills of the couples. In order to increase the quality of communication between spouses, the factors causing conflict are reviewed. By evaluating the cognitive and behavioural factors that make it difficult to adapt to the treatment period, besides educational programs, individual or couple specific work programs are organized, which are supported by relaxing activities aimed at recognizing the body.

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