When you struggle with infertility you may experience a myriad of emotions ranging from anger to sadness to fear and possibly guilt. It is hard for those not dealing with infertility to understand that guilt often arises as a result of not being able to conceive. We think and believe that having a baby is one of the most normal things a human body is capable of doing but when problems arise, people look for answers and blame themselves. Both men and women struggling with infertility experience a profound sense of guilt.
Why do individuals feel guilty when struggling with infertility?
- Feelings of guilt arise out of a fear of disappointing a partner. If your sperm count is low or you do not ovulate, you may feel that the problem stems from you; resulting in deep feelings of guilt about how “your problem” is affecting your partner.
- You may feel that you are disappointing your family; including your parents, grandparents, siblings, etc. It doesn’t matter if you come from a large or small family because expectations about having children exist in all types of families and across all cultures.
- If you are older you may feel that you waited too long to establish your career, save up enough to buy a home or feel settled enough to start a family and now age is working against you.
The list above is only a small fraction of the reasons why a person feels guilt as a result of being infertile. The most important thing is that without exploring this feeling, guilt can poison an already very stressful and difficult journey. It is important to put guilt in its place, to check its power over your experience as you try to conceive. At the moment your body is not working the way you had hoped and expected. As you explore options it is important to be mindful of all the emotions that arise and engage in coping strategies to help alleviate the most negative ones.
How do you change the feelings of guilt that you feel due to your infertility?
When my clients come to see me we talk about their guilt. It is a hard emotion to discuss but when we coax it out, we see that it is a part of the emotional package that accompanies infertility. I help people see that the infertility is not a matter of fault – that it just is, and we have to deal with the situation at hand in the most sensitive way possible. It is vital to ensure that your emotional toolbox is filled with strategies that can enable you to handle your guilt in a positive and accepting manner.