Sometimes when a woman discovers she’s infertile, she wasn’t even trying to have children—or even certain she ever wanted to have children, as it’s common for this information to come up during totally routine exams. There are, of course, other women who unfortunately discover fertility issues after years of trying to conceive with their partner. Receiving this information, whether you want children or not, is complicated and painful in different ways. In a way, learning you can’t have children is a loss. You didn’t lose a child, but you lost possibilities—you lost an option that, until then, you always thought would at least be on the table. Nobody likes to have their options taken away before they even had a chance to think about them. Here are the mental stages of realizing you’re infertile.

If you wanted children…

It can be a bit hard to believe. You’ll think most the world can get pregnant every day! How am I not like them? And since there are often no physical symptoms of infertility it can be very difficult to comprehend that something inside your body is not as it should be.

You’ll wonder if you did this

Is this because of all your drinking in college? Is this from that infection you let go untreated for too long? From that sport, you were really into? You’ll pick apart every choice you ever made in your life and wonder if that was the cause.

You’re angry at accidental pregnancies

You will likely think of all of the people you know who have become accidentally pregnant, and you’ll feel a little angry at them. They weren’t sure if they were happy or terrified at the news; you wish you could take that moment from them because you know you would have been ecstatic.

A bit of guilt

If your partner very much wants children too, there is some amount of guilt that comes with discovering that you’re infertile. You feel like you are taking your partner’s dream away from him.

You’ll wonder if he wants someone else

It’s a ridiculous thought, but a common one to have during such an emotional time; I bet my partner wishes he were with someone else—someone fertile. Your partner will, of course, assure you that he wants a life with just you, kids or no kids.

You’ll look into your family history

It’s normal to become curious about your family history now. Did your mother or grandmother ever have miscarriages? Was anyone else infertile?

You may find some upsetting news

If your mother ever did have a miscarriage, there is very little reason she would have told you…until now. She might, out of a sense of obligation to give you all the facts you need, tell you now. That can be a shocking and upsetting conversation.

Also, you’ll dread telling your parents

They won’t be able to hide their disappointment because they always wanted grandchildren. And you are in no place to handle the disappointment of others, on top of your own, right now.

You’ll jump into other options

You might go into action mode researching fertility treatments, surrogates, adoption, and the like. This may become your obsession for weeks.


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