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Phase II - Evaluation and diagnosis

During the evaluation and diagnosis phase, partners are seeking answers and understanding. They undergo medical examinations to identify the cause of infertility, which can be exhausting and anxiety producing. Most couples find the medical exams a pervasive, all-encompassing activity.

After the cause of infertility has been determined, some couples may feel relieved knowing that there may be a solution to their infertility. For others, however, the infertility source cause may generate feelings of blame, guilt or anger.

Guilt

Feelings of guilt are an unfortunate but common response to an infertility diagnosis. When determining the cause of your infertility, you may be concerned that some of your past activities may have caused the problem.

At times, people may feel that they are being punished for past sexual activities or an abortion they had. Quite often, infertile partners feel they are depriving their fertile partners from having a baby. A person who cannot conceive may also feel that they are betraying their family, particularly if they or their partner is an only child.

Dealing with feeling guilty

It is important to live in the present—in the here and nownot in the past. Life has plenty of ups and downs; it's not a straight line. In our lives, we have made choices, had experiences that were both good and bad. What matters the most under the present circumstances is to do whatever you can now to make this situation successful. 

So, there is no sense in blaming yourself or your partner for this infertility problem. It is better to consider it as an opportunity to overcome obstacles and build an even closer relationship.

Anger

The feeling of anger can manifest itself in multiple ways. Anger often arises from needing to suddenly confront a great amount of stress or loss, including the loss of control.

Feeling bitter about women who succeeded in getting pregnant, or about family and friends who don't understand the emotional stress of infertility, is normal. Couples often direct their anger toward their physicians; this is one reason why many infertile patients change doctors so often.

Fighting this angst

For a moment, consider how many couples are going through the same experience as you. It is important to know that you are not alone in this challenging journey. Look to connect with other partners who went through the same infertility situation and seek advice on how they made it through this challenging period in their lives. Talk with your physician or get psychological counseling to help you through.

Blame

You and your partner may blame each other for the inability to conceive, even when only one member is infertile. You may also respond differently to infertility's emotional challenges. As such, you may discover that one of you is less worried about having a baby. Due to these differences, one partner may be resentful that the other is not sharing the intensity of the experience. 

Avoiding blaming your partner

The key to all successful relationships, particularly when couples are going through a life stressor like infertility, is communication. A majority of couples find it emotionally and physically difficult to discuss their fertility. Therefore, it is important to respect each other’s style of coping. 

Setting some achievable goals and pursuing interests not related to having a baby can help create a strong sense of control and accomplishment. Try to find areas in your lives that you can both move forward with. This is particularly important for couples who are frustrated, feeling that they are putting their lives on hold while trying to conceive.

About ten percent of couples have idiopathic infertility, meaning they do not have a specific cause of infertility. This unknown source explanation can magnify the stress factor because not knowing the cause might be interpreted as a poorer chance to succeed in fertility treatment.  

In this situation, it is essential to seek medical support and at times, psychological help to evaluate the issues at stake and to select the most appropriate course of action.

Couples can benefit greatly by talking to people who know their predicament and understand their feelings. People who empathize with the couple can help assure them that despite the pervasiveness of examinations, this fertility phase is essential in determining optimal treatment. At this stage, fertility support groups and professional counselors can play a pivotal role.

Fertility treatments: phases and feelings

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