5 Ways Infertility Affects Your Life

It’s Not Only Your Uterus

Infertility is more than a problem with your reproductive system. It can affect your whole life in ways you may not expect.

If you’re struggling with infertility, you may have issues with any or all of these areas.  Be prepared, and ask for help when you need it during your fertility journey.

  • Relationships—You may find that TTC and fertility treatment put a strain on your relationship with your partner. A study in Denmark found that couples who ultimately did not have a child after fertility evaluation had significantly higher odds of ending their relationship.  Men and women react differently to infertility and may not understand or sympathize with the other’s point of view.  It’s important not to blame each other, and to take breaks from the pressure to conceive.  Other relationships can be threatened as well.  Watching friends and family easily start a family can really hurt when you’re having a hard time.  Again, take a break now and then from people and situations (family reunions, holidays, etc.) when you’re around babies if the pain is too great.
  • Sex life—Having a lot of sex so you can get pregnant sounds pretty good, right? But having sex on a schedule or “on demand” puts performance pressure on both partners.  Sex becomes more of a duty than a pleasure.  It’s especially difficult if one partner wants sex more than the other does, and it becomes a chore.
  • Mental health—Stress, anxiety and depression are common responses to infertility and to fertility treatment. Guilt, anger and grieving can be experienced by both partners.  When both of you are feeling sad or depressed, it greatly increases your irritability and stress.  The emotional strain of infertility can cause relationships to break.  Join a support group or see a counselor to help you both deal with the emotions and mitigate damage to your relationship. Activities like meditation, running or yoga are effective at relieving stress for many people.
  • Physical health—Anxiety and stress can disrupt your sleep, send up your blood pressure, give you an upset stomach, or manifest in your body in many other ways. Fertility medications can cause mood swings, bloating, headaches and hot flashes.
  • Financial impact—If you need IVF treatment and don’t have insurance coverage for fertility treatment, the cost in the U.S. of one IVF cycle averages about $12,000 plus the cost of fertility medications, which can range from $5,000 – $10,000 or more. A cycle using donor eggs and a gestational surrogate can cost as much as $100,000.  Most couples will require two cycles or more to have a baby. If you live in one of the 16 states that mandate insurance coverage of at least some part of fertility treatment, you will have at least some help with covering the cost.  Many employers are offering family building benefits to attract and retain valuable employees in a tight job market.  You can ask your benefits manager about the coverage you have and how that could be expanded or improved.