What is childlessness and how is it experienced?
Between 10-15% of all heterosexual couples are involuntarily childless. In this post, you can read about how childlessness it experienced, and how to live a meaningful life while struggling to create a family.
If a 12-month period of intercourse of normal frequency ends without pregnancy, a couple is infertile. In approximately one-third of the cases, the problem is due to the man, and in one-third of the cases, the problem is due to the woman. The last third is due to factors that affect both or other unknown reasons.
The psychological pregnancy begins before the physical one
Being involuntarily childless - what does this mean exactly? For parents with children, involuntary childlessness can be hard to imagine or understand. But for those who are or have been affected, the meaning is clear. For both involuntarily childless couples and couples who achieve pregnancy quickly, the so-called psychological pregnancy starts with the desire to have a child. However, this is where the similarity ends. For whereas the pregnant couple gives birth to the child of their dreams within a shorter period of time, the involuntarily childless couple may have to wait two to three years or even longer.
Change in attitude towards childlessness
Generations ago, childlessness was to a greater extent accepted as a fact of life. Or the problem was resolved through for example adoption. However, In the past 50 to 60 years, the availability of new techniques and a change in attitudes have resulted in an increased need to treat involuntary childlessness.
In the past 10 to 20 years, it has become much more common to offer treatment to heterosexual couples, single women and lesbian couples. The group of single women, in particular, has risen and today accounts for over one-third of all fertility treatments.
Childlessness and the relationship
In a heterosexual couple, men and women often experience childlessness differently. The difference can result in disappointments and a crisis in the relationship. It is often couples who see themselves as being in a strong relationship that seeks infertility treatment. It requires great commitment to face the problem and attempt to do something about it. Many couples who go through a period of childlessness and fertility treatment together achieve to strengthen their relationship during the process.
Who to open up to about childlessness
Some people struggling with childlessness choose not to discuss what they are going through. This to avoid pity, questions or well-meaning suggested solutions from others. However, choosing not to open up about the problems could mean not getting help and support which can be crucial.
Having said this, there are also advantages in being selective when choosing who to open up to. Some people who have not experienced the problem themselves, may not fully understand what childless people go through. Therefore, it can be a good idea to open up to some of the closets friends or family but not the whole world. However, all people are different and will handle the problem in different ways.
For some people, it feels good to open up to people that they do not know, for instance in a Facebook group or another online forum.
Acceptance of involuntary childlessness
Involuntary childlessness can be very hard to bear. The absence of a child can be a heavy burden to carry. However, it is important not to see it as one of life’s shortcomings. Similar to the lives of couples who easily become pregnant, life does not solely revolve around a child. It is important not to make the absence of a child the focus of one’s life.
People with fertility problems may try and view life in its wider context and not let childlessness take over their whole identity. Instead, it should reflect one aspect of it – even though childlessness, being permanent or a period of life, can be hard to accept and to live with.