Childlessness: What is it and How is it Experienced by Those Affected?
Between 10 and 15% of all heterosexual couples are involuntarily childless. Do you fall within this category? You are not alone. Understand the true definition of childlessness and learn how it is experienced by others affected.
What is Childlessness?
If a 12-month period of sexual intercourse of normal frequency ends without pregnancy, a couple is said to be involuntarily childless.
In approximately one-third of all the cases, the problem is due to the male partner, in another third of all the cases, the problem is due to the female partner. The last third is due to factors affecting both partners or reasons unknown.
Changes Over the Years with Involuntary Childlessness
Generations ago, involuntary childlessness was more accepted as a fact of life, or the problem was resolved through adoption or some other means. In the past 50 to 60 years, the availability of new techniques and a change in attitudes have resulted in a greatly increased need to treat involuntary childlessness.
In the past 10 to 20 years, it has also become more common in most Western countries to offer treatment to both single women and female couples. Single women as a group, in particular, has risen sharply and today accounts for over one-third of all treatments.
How Others Experience Childlessness
The psychological pregnancy begins long before the physical one. Being involuntarily childless – what does this mean exactly? For parents with children, involuntary childlessness can be hard to imagine, but for those affected or those who have been affected, the meaning is both clear and immediate.
For both involuntarily childless couples and couples who achieve a pregnancy relatively 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 foreseeable future, the involuntarily childless couple may have to wait two to three years and even as long as seven years, with many couples waiting even longer. Some couples never have the child they wish for and after a while must finally accept the loss that never having their own child can mean. For the vast majority, involuntary childlessness is a challenging life situation.
Involuntary Childlessness can Place a Heavy Burden on a Relationship
Men and women often experience childlessness differently, which is hardly surprising given gender differences in outlook. This difference often results is recriminations, disappointments, and in worst cases, a crisis in the relationship which can end in divorce. It is often couples who see themselves as being in a strong relationship that seeks infertility treatment, as it requires great commitment to face the problem and attempt to do something about it.
Similarly, many couples have stated that the period of childlessness and any courses of treatment have strengthened their relationship, which is a source of optimism amid all the gloom.
The Desire to Have a Child in Relation to Treatment Options and Possibilities in General
The desire to have a child must always be offset against the actual possibility of achieving pregnancy. Many couples begin a course of treatment after having decided that artificial insemination is not for them and that they would rather stop if insemination with the man’s sperm does not result in pregnancy. However, often the couples gradually change their position on which type of treatment they want to use. For example, couples who began by rejecting adoption may finally have to accept this option and are very happy with this solution.
Finally, there is a group that must face life without the possibility of having their own children. This may be a situation a couple accepts without seeking infertility treatment, or it may be a situation a couple has to face after several years of treatment without a positive outcome.
Open Up About Childlessness
Discussing the struggles of dealing with childlessness can be tough. However, choosing not to open up about the problem could mean not getting help and support which can be crucial. Having said this, selecting who to choose to open up to may have its’ advantages. 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 your closest friends or family but not the whole world. However, people are different and handle problems the way they feel most comfortable.
For some people, it feels good to open up (anonymous or non-anonymous) to people that they do not know, for instance in a Facebook group or another online forum. Choose what you think is best for you.
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 issues may try and view life in its wider context and not let childlessness take over their whole identity, whether your childlessness is permanent or for a period of time. Instead, it should reflect merely one aspect of it.
If you are experiencing childlessness and would like to use Cryos as your path to having a baby, please get in touch with one of our helpful client service representatives who can guide you through the process. Call us at (407) 203-1175, email us at [email protected] or chat with us live on our online chat system located on our website. Cryos is glad to help and be a possible resource for you to have the family of your dreams.