The fear of not being able to get pregnant is a very real concern for many women. Infertility fears are especially normal for women who are have been trying and failing to get pregnant for months or years. It’s not just women over 40 who are coping with fear of infertility; many women in their 20s get anxious and scared if it takes a long time to conceive a baby. This is understandable; infertility can be painful and socially isolating.
My husband and I tried to get pregnant for several years. We underwent six months of infertility treatments, chose potential sperm donors, and often talked about our fear of not getting pregnant. I coped with my fear of infertility by holding on to my faith. I truly believed that if my husband and I didn’t or couldn’t get pregnant, it was because God was protecting us from a situation or experience that wasn’t good for us. My husband didn’t agree with me, but that’s okay. I coped with my fear of infertility – or never getting pregnant – my way. My husband coped with infertility grief his way.
We’ve been married for 15 years; even though we never had children and coped with childlessness differently, we are very happy. And if we can come through infertility feeling stronger, healthier and happier than ever, so can you. My tips for coping with fertility fears will strengthen and support you as you continue your journey to get pregnant.
Here’s an interesting thing I’ve noticed in many of the comments my readers have left on blog posts such as Why Can’t You Get Pregnant? 4 Fertility Checklists: They share their fears about not getting pregnant but don’t actually have a reason to fear. In other words, many women don’t know what they’re afraid of because they haven’t had any fertility tests or even seen a family doctor, much less a gynecologist. Their partners haven’t seen a urologist or even had a sperm test. Some women haven’t taken any action to see if they can actually get pregnant. The thought of finding out if they can actually conceive fills them with anxiety; they’d rather struggle to cope with fear of infertility than finding out the truth.
Have you talked to a doctor or been tested to find out if you can conceive a baby? One of the best ways to cope with fear of not getting pregnant is to learn what you’re dealing with. Ignorance is not bliss! Does your husband or boyfriend have fertility or sperm health issues? After my husband and I grieved the fact that his body doesn’t produce sperm, I wrote What to Do When Your Husband Has Azoospermia.
5 Ways to Cope With Fear of Infertility
Give yourself time and space to grieve. Being unable to get pregnant isn’t something to hide or be ashamed of, but it can be really hard to talk about.
It took me and my husband two years of trying to conceive before we started telling people we were dealing with infertility. We weren’t scared to talk about it, just sad. But when we finally shared our infertility issues with friends and family, we were happily surprised at the support and help we received.
Infertility treatments, miscarriages, and difficulties getting pregnant are more common than you think. You aren’t alone in this.
1. Prepare for different emotions: fear, anger, confusion, guilt
“When you can’t get pregnant, you swim in a mix of emotions,” write Julie Vargo and Maureen Regan in A Few Good Eggs: Two Chicks Dish on Overcoming the Insanity of Infertility. “You feel insecure (how the hell did this happen to me?), inferior (if I can’t have a baby, I must not be enough of a woman), scared (how am I going to get out of this mess?), mad (how the hell did this happen to me?), and frustrated (what does that mean?).”
Allow your husband or boyfriend to have different thoughts on infertility clinics and doctors. Understand that making the appointment for fertility testing is difficult for men with possible sperm health issues. There is a huge barrier to making the appointment and giving the semen specimen to the lab! Men are sometimes embarrassed to give a sperm sample at a fertility clinic (but a sample is so important because it can provide valuable information about sperm count, production, and motility). Using the collection room, which is usually a bathroom with some adult magazines, can make men very uncomfortable, especially when they can hear people walking or talking nearby. And, having to “perform on command” can be daunting for some men, which increases stress and infertility fears.
2. Avoid online forums and groups that increase your fear of infertility
Even though I started a blog for couples coping with infertility and even wrote about our fertility treatments, I never read pregnancy forums or blogs. I couldn’t handle it! I felt depressed, anxious and confused when I scrolled through the comments and discussions. For some women, one of the best ways to cope with infertility fears is to find online support and companionship. Not this woman! Blogs and groups just made me feel worse.
If you read fertility forums and blogs, note how you feel during and after a visit. If you feel even more scared and nervous about not getting pregnant, stop reading them. Infertility and pregnancy forums can get addictive – I get it! But if you’re feeding your infertility fears and anxiety, choose not to go there.
3. Get information about why you can’t get pregnant
Some women cope with fear of infertility by reading helpful books such as It Starts with the Egg: How the Science of Egg Quality Can Help You Get Pregnant Naturally, Prevent Miscarriage, and Improve Your Odds in IVF (which is what I did!).
Other women spend time researching fertility treatments, exploring surrogate parenthood, and even considering family options in countries such as India. Other women dive into various health questions: Am I ovulating every month and are my periods normal? Does my husband or boyfriend have a low sperm count or slow sperm? Do we have medical issues that cause infertility, which aren’t directly related to reproduction or fertility? How long have we been trying to get pregnant and what is normal?
If you don’t know what obstacles you’re facing, you’ll never overcome them. One of the best ways to get over your fear of never getting pregnant is to learn what you’re dealing with. It may even help you to learn what worked for other women facing the same or similar fertility problems.
4. Accept your partner’s way of coping with infertility fears
Many infertility books and doctors have said that women are often more proactive about infertility issues and health concerns. Women are more likely than men to seek medical advice or consider different types of fertility tests. This can be especially true when a couple is trying to conceive and really want to get pregnant. Men are often more reluctant to admit or face fears of not getting pregnant. Getting infertility help and dealing with the disappointment of not being pregnant may be more difficult for men, which creates tension in a marriage or relationship.
Accept your boyfriend or husband’s way of coping with anxiety and fear about not conceiving a baby. Find ways to cope with your own fears of infertility; your coping strategies may rub off on him. Even if he doesn’t cope well or talk about his sadness at not getting pregnant, let him deal with it in his own way. Also, remember that it’s normal to fear infertility test results. Many men identify their masculinity with their performance and the quality of their sperm. Even the possibility of getting a diagnosis of a poor semen analysis result can be difficult for men to cope with.
5. Be open to a different life than you imagined
Curiosity and acceptance are my favorite ways to cope with anything – including fear of infertility. I always wanted to have a child and was curious what it’d be like. My husband, on the other hand, always pictured himself with a huge family. He had to redefine his self-identity and life; I simply adopted a new idea of what our future would look like.
I also embraced the freedom that comes with childlessness. I was (and still am) especially happily that my heart isn’t out in the world, walking around getting hurt. I’ve always been very sensitive and easily wounded; having a child would be a constant breaking of my heart.
So, I welcomed the positive aspects of not having children. I redefined my life and explored a variety of activities, such as writing Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back, going to graduate school, playing the flute, traveling, learning Christian meditation, and nurturing my relationship with God.
What about you…how do you feel about redefining your life? Is your fear of not getting pregnant overshadowing who you are and want you want? Your comments – big and little – are welcome below.
If neither you nor your partner have been diagnosed with infertility and it’s just taking forever to conceive a baby, read How to Be Positive When It’s Taking a Long Time to Get Pregnant.