Experiencing infertility

Infertility is one of the deepest challenges of a couple. It threatens every aspect of a couple’s life, from day-to-day habits to dreams for the future.

Infertility does not just affect the relationship between the two partners, it also affects each one individually, affecting the sense of self, dreams for the future, relationships with the parents, friends and colleagues. Few crises question that many psychological aspects and are so overwhelming.

The psychological consequences are often ignored and untreated

It results in intense suffering and loneliness for most patients and increases a stress that can have a negative effect on the results of the treatment.

The bypass treatment of infertility (medically assisted procreation) currently has a success rate that is comparable to natural pregnancies (about 15 to 20%).

Pregnancy can never be guaranteed

Whatever the means couples choose to resolve their infertility, they must be fully aware that the road that leads from being aware of the problem to its resolution goes through different stages that are characterized by specific problems and worries.

The partners should both agree to consult

If the partners are aware of a pre-existing problem (like a previous medical condition that could cause infertility), they should immediately seek medical help. In other cases, in women over 30 years old, it is reasonable to seek help after over six months of unsuccessful attempts. Women aged 30 years old or under should seek medical help after trying to conceive for one or many years.

Evaluation and diagnosis

For about 10% of couples, no specific cause of infertility can be found. It amplifies their stress as, because they don’t know what the source of the problem is, they can think that a treatment has fewer chances to succeed.

At that moment, providing advice becomes even more important than treating the problem. Couples need to talk to people who know and understand how they feel and be assured that, despite the invasive side of the tests, this phase is essential in determining a treatment that is adapted to their situation. Support groups and experienced counsellors can often play a key-role at this stage.


The duration of the treatment phase is highly variable depending on the cause of infertility, the type of treatment and the couple’s desires. For couples only treated through drug therapy, 80% get pregnant after several cycles of treatment. For techniques of medically assisted reproduction (IVF, inseminations, etc.) the success rate varies from 10% to 20% per treatment cycle.

For couples that do not get pregnant after many cycles of treatment, the decision to pursue the treatment depends on their desire and must be taken after consulting the medical staff.

Solving the problem of infertility

After several unsuccessful attempts comes the time when couples may have to make the decision to continue or discontinue therapy.

For many, deciding to stop the treatment will be accompanied by feelings of sadness, emptiness, exhaustion and sometimes relief. However, in making this decision, the couples take some time to redefine their priorities and set goals that will open the way to solutions.

For some, the solution is to take a break from the treatment and try again later. Others will decide to adopt. Others still will decide to live a life without children.

Inspirational readings
Martine Jouffroy Valton

Martine studied clinical psychotherapy in 1995, earning a diploma from the Gestalt Intervention Centre of Montreal, followed by five years of practicing therapy in the city. She has accompanied people on the road to death, and has helped families affected by genetic illnesses or AIDS. Today, she works as a coach for a communications and marketing company, helping to recruit international experts for the European Commission in Brussels. She also has a private practice and greatly enjoys one-on-one time with her patients. For more info, email her at or give her a call at +32-485-614-234.

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