The Psychology of Infertility

March 16, 2008

The expectation that a married couple will eventually have children is profound in our society. This is especially true for girls. From the time that they are conscious of themselves as a social beings, they are encouraged to emulate women who long to marry and have children.  A girl's closest role model, her own mother, is what many girls aspire to become.

Hopes Dashed

When a couple decides that they are ready to have children, they are usually excited and happy about the prospect of bringing new life into the world. After many months of unsuccessfully trying to conceive, hopes are dashed, disappointment and stress sets in.

Three Psychological Factors

According to one study done in Sweden, three separate factors seem to contribute to the psychological stress men and women  experience as a result of their infertility. The three factors, in order of importance for the women were,

  • "Having Children is a Major Focus of Life"
  • "The Female Role and Social Pressure"
  • "Effect on Sexual Life"

The men in the study reversed the order of importance of factors 1 and 2. The third factor was equally significant to both the men and women. It was also shown that women experienced their infertility more strongly than the men. Women  also showed a more intense desire to have a baby than the men did.

Coping Styles Vary

The study also pointed out that women are much more likely to seek emotional support from friends, relatives and other outside sources. Women were more likely to confide in people about their infertility than were their husbands. On the other hand, the men were more likely to cope with their infertility by seeking information.

Psychological Make-up Does Not Seem to Cause Infertility

Some studies seem to show that infertile women are more neurotic, dependent, and anxious than fertile women. However, most other studies seem to show that there is no difference in the basic psychological make-up of fertile versus infertile women. One study which compared the psychological make-up of fertile women to that of infertile women with no physical explanation found no significant difference in their relative emotional and psychological characters.

 

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