There is an emptiness in my womb that I so desperately wish to fill, with a mass of cells called a fetus that millions of ungrateful people throw away or avoid with a pill, there’s an aching emptiness in my breast. Sometimes, I fell the phantom milk filling me – and I ache for the weight of a child in my loving arms – to suckle and rest. Dear God! I am empty and it hurts – unbearably so…. R. Marie Taylor
Pregnancy is a sign of missed periodic cycle of menstruation each month where you watch your body and examine your feelings, looking for signs of becoming a mother. If your period is late, your spirits rise, only to be dashed. You go to the loo every five minutes, looking for a drop of blood. You go through these cycles of emotions month after month. You begin to ask yourself what’s wrong with you, is this disease or a sign of better future. You feel you have no control over your body or your life, nothing is left with you. Conception can become an obsession, and you start to feel isolated.
It looks as a nightmare when you have a problem in this natural process. You might try to deny it. You pretend that this is not really happening to you, may think of striving too hard or not at all for it. Maybe you really don’t want that baby is all you think about. Around you, everyone else seems to be pregnant and you can’t believe how easy it is for them. You begin to feel angry with your body for letting you down. You want to kill yourself and regret all around you. The world seems to be with you for a while and may go against when you think of yourself as being “an empty cradle” or being an infertile, and it’s social and psychological effects. Was it me or my husband, who is responsible for my empty womb?
If a woman has not become pregnant after a year of trying, they may have a fertility problem, and it is worth seeking medical help. If the woman is over 35 (Infertility Support & Advocacy), it may be a good idea to start checking things out even earlier, for e.g. after six to nine months of unprotected sex. Infertility investigations can sometimes take a long time, even years. If you put off seeking help early, you could be leaving it too late. Infertility is of two types, primary and secondary. Primary infertility is described, as couple has never been able to conceive a pregnancy, after at least 1 year of unprotected intercourse. Whereas, secondary pregnancy describes as couples who have previously been pregnant at least once, but not have been able to achieve another pregnancy. According to Daily Times Newspaper, “the prevalence of primary infertility is 3.4% and secondary infertility is 18.4% in Pakistan”. Infertility arises due to multiple reasons in males and females, such as, vasectomy, dysfunctional ejaculation, sexual organ anomalies, hormonal disorders, autoimmune (antibody) disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, endometriosis, ovulation disorder, premature menopause, polycystic ovarian disease, uterine fibroids and polyps.
Most of the couples get shocked when they explore that they are infertile and commonly feel socially isolated. Infertility has great impact on social life of men and women. Firstly, the emotional upheaval of infertility can cause relationship distress, communication crisis, sexual difficulties, and isolation. Sometimes, one partner doesn’t agree for particular treatment which can makes other partner feel lack of love, ignored and impulsiveness. The fear to be left alone by another partner is very disturbing for the spouse. Sometimes, they force to get divorce by fertile partner to give a happy life without them. According to Brozan (1982), “most couples feel their relationship has become stronger simply from having come through this crisis. It has forced them to confront the major issue of their lives.” On the other side, the stress on relationship is sometimes so high that spouse tries to involve in extra marital affair to prove their fertility and self-worthiness.
Secondly, Social stigmatization is always attached to infertility since Stone Age. Previously, it was considered as punishment for an individual’s sins. In many societies, women considered as a machine of producing babies. If woman can’t work like that then society blame her and stigmatizes her as worthless person of society who cannot be a source of happiness for her husband and family. Social stigmatization also develops in men and forces them to keep their infertility as a secret and hinder them to seek medical help.
In psychological point of view, parenthood is the big dream for any couple’s life and a big transition period for both genders. Unfortunately, if this wish doesn’t fulfill then the couple might face emotional stress, guilt, anger, depression, and low self-esteem. Sometimes, couples also try to commit suicide to prove themselves innocent and helpless. Depression can also effect on physiology of infertility that is shown in different studies. “One study of 10 depressed and 13 normal women suggests that depression is associated with abnormal regulation of leutinizing hormone, a hormone that regulated ovulation. (Meller, 1997). Further studies are still in progress to find out that there is an association between stress and behavioral changes i.e. low libido, smoking, and alcohol use, which can cause secondary infertility. Sleep disturbances is also effect of stress related to infertility.
Overall, couples with fertility problems have different responses to their situations, and different ways of dealing with them. Under such conditions, more often, they feel an extraordinary isolation, being surrounded by friends and family who all seem to have children, or are becoming pregnant. They can feel their life is ’out of control’, since the part which they took so much for granted, their ability to have a baby, is now in the hands of doctors and scientists. They often experience pressure from well-meaning friends or family who constantly ask when they are going to start a family. Many choose to keep their fertility problems a secret. Infertility is a situation of loss which can go on for years, and it can be difficult to deal with constant sadness in their lives. Often the male partner deals with this sadness in a different way to the female partner, and this can be difficult to understand. Men commonly don’t talk as much as women do, and don’t always express their feelings as openly as women. The feelings of both partners, however, can be very intense, and people sometimes say that they think they must be going insane until they talk to other infertile couple who describe similar feelings, and realize that they are, in fact, very normal. More often, couples who share their problem are more stable then the ones blaming their partner being infertile.
So, sharing this problem with the right person is very important in the whole process to resolve it completely…