Accepting Infertility *

David A. Gershaw, Ph.D.

Many women view biological motherhood as a major portion of their role in life. However, about one in six women have trouble conceiving even with medical help. Success in this situation does not need to be defined only in terms of conception and birth of a child. Half of the women who seek medical help to conceive are never able to have their own children. For the women, success can be defined in helping them with the difficult task of restructuring their lives and accepting the fact that they cannot become pregnant.

Over 10-month intervals, psychologist Judith Daniluk of the University of British Columbia repeatedly interviewed 37 childless couples, who had made repeated and fruitless attempts to conceive. She found nine themes that were typical of accepting the permanence of their infertility

"Whom do you invite to this funeral
where there's no body
there hasn't ever been a body?

* Adapted from Kathleen McCarthy's article, "Infertile women need help accepting inability to conceive, " APA Monitor, July 1994, page 52.

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