At least one of every ten couples in India is coping with this crisis right now. Family and friends are often misinformed about infertility and may say things that are incorrect and hurtful. Here is all that you need to know about infertility.

You are not alone.

At least one of every ten couples in India is coping with this crisis right now. Family and friends are often misinformed about infertility and may say things that are incorrect and hurtful.

What is infertility?

Infertility is defined as being unable to get pregnant after one year of having well-timed intercourse.

Is infertility just a woman's problems?

Absolutely not! The problems are shared equally between the husband and wife. In fact, 40% of the time, the problem lies with the man; 40%with the woman; 10% are a combination of both partners; and 10% are unexplained. And remember, no matter who has the medical problem, it is the couple as a whole who is infertile.

How long should we try before we see a doctor?

Most doctors advise you not to worry unless you have been trying for over one year - remember, it takes time for Nature to make a baby!

Nature is not very efficient, and the natural conception rate is only about 10-20%every month. However, if you are over 30 years old, or suspect you may have a problem (for example, irregular cycles) you may want to seek help sooner.

Unfortunately, many couples have a hard time admitting that there may be an infertility problem and they keep on hoping after each menstrual period that maybe it will work this cycle

At what time of the month is the woman most fertile?

The day your period (menstrual blood flow) starts is Day 1. You ovulate(your ovary produces an egg) around Day 14 - about 14 days before your next period is due. The egg stays alive for about 24 hours, and the sperm stay alive in the body for about 48 hours. Plan to have intercourse frequently around this time - but don't schedule sex - this can be very stressful and counterproductive!

What you may feel - the emotional trauma of infertility

Guilt: You may wonder if you are being punished for something you did wrong - maybe in some previous life time!

Anger: You may be angry with your body which has failed you; angry with God for letting you down; and angry with your doctor, when there are no quick and easy answers.

Sadness: For not having the child you've dreamed of creating together

Loss of control: Over your life - and your emotions. Many couples describe their life as an emotional roller-coaster, with monthly hopes and despairs.

Isolation: Family and friends don't seem to understand - and you may feel that you are the only ones in the world without a baby!

It's okay to stop pretending that everything is all right when you are hurting inside. Remember that it's normal to: cry, feel angry, sad or frustrated. You need support - and it's all right to ask for it.

What can you do about the emotions that accompany infertility?

Tell family and friends when they hurt you, and ask for emotional support when you need it. Being infertile is no fault of yours - you don't need to hide the fact or be ashamed of it. It is a medical problem, like any other, which needs treatment.

Turn your anger into energy - get informed about medical issues and be your own advocate!

Make decisions for yourself - take back control of your life

Find someone to talk to - a sympathetic friend or a counsellor. Infertility Friends can help you to find someone to talk to - someone who has been there, and can empathise with you in your time of need!

Treat yourself to some special luxury - you deserve some pampering!

As a couple:

The stress of infertility can weaken your marriage - or paradoxically, even strengthen it, depending upon how you approach the problem together. Often, it's hard to communicate, and you sometimes don't talk because you don't want to hurt one another. Sex isn't satisfying or comforting anymore - and can even add to the stress. Here are some things you can do to help each other.

  • Express what you feel
  • Don't expect your spouse to react like you
  • Plan fun activities together

Some common hard times

  • Parties, where everyone talks about their kids
  • Marriage ceremonies, when everyone else comes with their children
  • Family functions, when everyone asks you when you plan to starta family
  • Anniversary of a pregnancy loss (miscarriage or stillbirth)

Goals and Expectations

You may feel desperate for a pregnancy and be unwilling to think about alternative options. Staying in a joint family can exacerbate tensions, and nosy neighbours, relatives and office workers can add to your woes!

Everyone has different styles of coping, and you will need to come to terms with this challenge in your life, as you have with others in the past. Most people begin to feel peace and confidence in themselves over time, although there may always be some sadness for what they have gone through.

Trust yourself, your skills and abilities, to help you to get through this difficult time. Reach out for help and support when you need it - remember, you are not alone!

What else can you do?

Learn as much as you can about infertility. Get and read reliable information, which you can get from your doctor, your library, from the internet, or from us.

Don't be afraid or shy about asking questions -- especially of your doctor -- the only stupid question is the one not asked!

The more you know, the more you will be able to ask for information and get the help you need. Educating yourself can save years of frustration and disappointment.

It is your life and you need to make your own decisions - and in order to make the right decision, you need all the information you can get!

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

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