Afrikaans English
Struggling to have children
Did you know?
One in four relationship pairs in developed countries is affected by infertility.
Reproductive health
About 15% of South African relationship couples struggle with infertility.
Infertility (Health 24)

GENERAL

Struggling to have children

Some couples first want to wait and enjoy their life together before having children, others want to start a family as soon as possible. For some, pregnancy happens unexpectedly and unplanned. But, how do we deal with it when we struggle to have children?

An emotional battle
It is a great emotional challenge for relationship partners if they are struggling to conceive. This can be accompanied by a lot of uncertainty and questions, for example: "Will we ever be able to have children?"; "When will it happen?"; and "What's wrong with me / us?"

This emotional rocking board affects each person differently.

Regulation in the bedroom
One experience we often hear about in practice is that the spontaneity and pleasure of intimacy is lost in relationships. Every month, careful monitoring of ovulation takes place and therefore when the optimal time for fertilization is reached. There is then a lot of pressure to be intimate during this period, so as to have the best chance of becoming pregnant. Appointments are scheduled accordingly, plans are made, alarms are set, etc. Sex often feels like a "job" or an "obligation," and not as a pleasure. Sometimes one of the relationships is more motivated than the other. This can lead to a lot of conflict and unhappiness.

A monthly loss
Every month when menstruation - despite the attempts to conceive - occurs, it again feels like a loss and again it unleashes sadness and questions. This process is also always accompanied by one or more miscarriages, which aggravate the grieving process.

Difficult and better days
Like any difficult process, there are days when you feel you can handle things and other days you don't even want to get out of bed. This struggle can take its toll on one's mental health. Relationships often struggle with symptoms of anxiety and depression while trying to conceive.

Some days you may start off well, but a reminder of your problem, e.g. Seeing a pregnant woman, or finding out a family member is expecting a baby, can unleash a jumble of emotions.

Without hope
Relationship couples struggling to have children go through an emotional up-and-down struggle. The constant pressure and worry, as well as the sadness that comes with it, can cause them to feel that they have no hope. It may also feel like things are never going to improve. Systematically this can lead to burnout and depression. Be mindful and read more about these signs at the following links: Depression symptoms en Complete the HADS

Stress on the relationship
As mentioned, regulating and controlling intimacy can put pressure on a relationship. The many questions, feelings of guilt, as well as the grieving process can present similar challenges. It is therefore very important to keep the communication channels open at all times and to give time and attention to the relationship.

ADVICE

Advice to the loved ones of a woman struggling to have children

For the relationship mates

  1. Make and break
    Every marriage / relationship has its good and bad times, as well as challenges. Dealing with "struggling to have children" is a major challenge for sure. It can make and break a relationship. If the individuals within the relationship face each other and allow an emotional separation between them, it can seriously harm the relationship. Rather, understanding each other and working through it together can strengthen their commitment.
  2. Communication
    It is crucial that relationship partners talk to each other about what they are feeling and experiencing. A relationship can deepen a lot by dealing with such a crisis together. Open communication and respect for each other's needs is important.
  3. Each one his space
    Each partner should have their own “space” to handle the situation in their own unique way. They do not have to share everything or be in each other's company permanently to keep in touch. Allows everyone to also spend time with him / herself and his / her emotions.

Advice for someone who is out of proportion

  1. What should I do?
    You can't take away or fix the problem. However, you may be "present" and available to create a "safe space" for your friend or family member.
  2. Emotions are important, just listen
    Allow him / her enough time to feel and express sadness, anger (or any other emotion). Don't try to say something that will "make it better". Be available, but also be honest about what you can offer.
  3. Arrange a "outing for the soul"
    Sometimes the person may need someone to take him / her out of their situation for a moment to appreciate something more beautiful, e.g. to walk by the sea, or drink tea in a quiet garden or park. Please ask if she / he will go along if you arrange something like this. You can offer it, but also accept if the answer is "no".
  4. Offer a safe place
    Sometimes someone just needs to know they are welcome somewhere. For example, the person may spend time with you / in your home, but they do not need to talk. They can only "be".
  5. Ask if you don't know
    If you do not know how to provide support, ask the person what their need is and how you can help. Even if the person cannot answer the question, it means a lot that you are interested and want to help.

EMERGENCY MEASURES

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health problems, we suggest the following options:
  1. call your GP (if available);
  2. go to your nearest hospital emergency room;
  3. call one of the following emergency numbers: SADAG (the South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 24-hour helpline: 0800 12 13 14 or suicide crisis line: 0800 567 567; or
  4. contact Wie is ek?