Men and women who are undergoing fertility treatment, or for whom fertility treatments have already failed, may find that the whole experience takes its toll on their emotional health. Men and women tend to react to the emotional strains of infertility in different ways, which can lead to misunderstandings and problems in their relationships. The key to dealing with infertility emotions to is talk about them, whether you're talking to your partner, a friend or relative, or to a professional counselor.
Of course, women are individuals, and they react to infertility in different ways. What follows below is a general description of some of the emotions a woman may experience.
A woman suffering from infertility may find that her self-esteem diminishes. The ability to make a baby is something that many of us take for granted. Being unable to do so can make a women feel less feminine, perhaps even alienated from other women. It may be hard for her to maintain relationships with girlfriends and female relatives who don't seem to have any trouble getting pregnant. She may worry that her partner will grow tired of this childless relationship and move on to pastures new. If she's undergoing invasive fertility treatment such as IVF, she may find that the affect of the drugs and physical tiredness makes her feel low and unable to cope with other aspects of her life. It's not unknown for a woman to experience depression as a result of long-term infertility, or fertility treatment.
Just as a woman may experience doubts about her sense of identity due to infertility, so too a man may feel that his masculinity is being called into question. He may feel frustrated that he's unable to perform his usual role of "problem solver" or "protector" for his partner - she's miserable, but there's nothing he can do about it. A man may also feel that his status at work or in his social life is at risk. It's generally accepted that men are a lot less likely than women to actually talk about what's bothering them. Men can therefore find themselves in situations in which colleagues or friends make insensitive remarks that they'd never dream of making if they knew that there was really a problem. Men can also find some aspects of fertility treatment (such as providing a semen sample) humiliating.
Either individually or as a couple, people who are experiencing infertility should seek emotional support if they need it. All reputable fertility clinics, adoption agencies, etc. will provide counseling as part of their service. In extreme cases of depression it may be necessary to consider a medical solution, such as anti-depressant medication. However, most people will find that talking about their situation helps. Even couples who don't want to see a counselor on a regular basis may find that an initial session with counselor can furnish them with a few tips on how to talk to one another about these feelings, in a supportive and non judgmental atmosphere.