Infertility and its Effect on Couples
Anna Averina has been working in the field of infertility and women’s health for over 3 years. Now that she’s a part of the Thomas Medical family, we interviewed Anna on her experiences and opinions about this intimate topic. Here, Anna focuses on how the challenges of infertility can impact a couple.
What’s it like for couples undergoing treatments for infertility?
Undergoing infertility treatment is a difficult experience. It puts emotional strain on the couple; not just for the hopeful mother, but for the hopeful father, as well. There are expectations, lots of high hopes and deep disappointments if the treatment doesn’t work. It’s a particularly challenging period in the couple’s life.
What should my partner and I expect?
Psychologically, undergoing treatments for infertility is taxing. Partners need an exceptionally good connection and open communication to achieve success. Treating infertility is an act of teamwork. Before embarking on that journey, couples need to make sure they are on the exact same page regarding goals, limits, and possible compromises. For starters, infertility treatment is an economic hardship for the majority of people. And then there is the emotional toll it takes and how it changes the couple’s relationship. At the fertility clinic I worked at in Spain, we saw couples break up during the doctor’s consultation. The man was usually emotionally exhausted and the woman was fixated on getting pregnant. It’s sad, but this is the reality of some of the challenges we encountered day-to-day.
What was your experience with couples considering egg donation?
When people came to the fertility clinic, they were usually filled with doubts and questions. That’s why we had a psychologist on staff to work with them. In some cases, the baby a woman would be carrying would come from an egg donor, so the child would not be hers genetically. This is an uncomfortable idea for many women. Our psychologist worked to help the couples understand that it’s not the genetic material that’s going to create the bond they will share with their child. It’s not going to change the values they’re going to pass down. The couple needed to reexamine why they want a child. Was it only to pass on their genes? Of course not. It’s a much, much bigger picture than that.
I distinctly remember a French woman who had red hair. She underwent an egg donation. By law in Spain (where I was working at the time), the egg donor has to have similar physical characteristics to the recipient. Donors fill out special forms outlining their characteristics and provide pictures. Of course, the ultimate purpose is for the mother to have a child that looks like her, even though they’re not related genetically. This red-headed woman ended up with a red-headed daughter who looked exactly like her. There have been many studies on egg donation that show there is communication between the fetus and the mother’s body. As the head of our clinic used to say, “The same pregnancy will not result in the same baby in a different woman.” The developing baby adapts to the mother, making it totally unique. There should never be a question about whether or not the baby is “hers” or not. There is always something that the mother brings to that baby that only she can give. That’s one of the reasons I think egg donation is a very successful technique in overcoming infertility.
For more information on infertility and its many challenges, talk to a trusted physician or seek a consultation at a well-established clinic.