Being infertile is a major life crisis and can have a huge impact on your life. It's not just the anxiety and the uncertainty of waiting to find out where you're going to have a child - it's the impact this can have on you as a person.

A lot of people find that their struggle with infertility changes their personality. Some people become angry, frustrated and unhappy when they find they can't have a baby. The starts affecting their self-esteem and they get an inferiority complex . They refuse to attend parties, social gatherings and marriages, because they are fed up of having to deal with prying queries from strangers as to why they don't have a baby as yet . They tend to become isolated and socially reclusive. Their belief in their own competence is shaken up because they cannot even perform the basic biological task of bearing a child.

For most young couples, this is the first time in their life when they find out that they will not always get everything which they want. Most of them are young, successful and have usually got whatever they wanted by working harder and putting in the extra effort - a better car; a higher salary; a new house. This is the first time in the life they realize that no matter what they do, the outcome of fertility treatment is always uncertain. In one sense, they are being forced to confront their own mortality - and this can be a very sobering realization, which causes a lot of angst and grief.

They start questioning their faith in God . Does God really exists? After all, they haven't hurt anyone, and are likely to be good parents, so why is God being so unkind to them by refusing to give them a baby ? Can he really be so cruel ? Why does he give beggars on the street six kids who are forced to sleep naked and hungry at night, and not give them even one, when they have so much love and wisdom in their hearts to share ? It hurts when they realize that life is not always fair !

It starts affecting the marriage as well, because they find that small quarrels start escalating . They become major issues because of the elephant in the room, which creates a lot of stress but is difficult to discuss calmly and dispassionately. The fact that both the husband and wife are often on different pages (men are from Mars and women are from Venus ), just makes a bad situation even worse.

However, it's not all gloom and doom. Lots of infertile patients find that they actually end up becoming better human beings after experiencing infertility. Because they've suffered pain, they actually become more empathetic ; and understand other people's pain even better.
When they realize how hard it is to get pregnant, they end up being more appreciative of the fact that the rest of their body works properly - something which most of us take for granted all the time.

And if the IVF treatment does work, they are even more grateful for the fact that technology today exists, thanks to human ingenuity, which allows us to bypass all the in vivo barriers which infertile couples encounter in their bedroom.

The bottom line is that while you did not choose to be infertile, how you choose to respond to this crisis in your life is definitely within your control.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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