The Psychology of Infertility
Having battled with infertility for close to 14 years, of which 4 years were a passive battle, and 10 years an active battle where I had more or less declared war on the condition. Even after a spirited fight, I lost, then laid down my arms, waved a white flag, declared defeat and bought peace with the very same condition that haunted me for about a decade and a half.
While I was in the condition and when I was out of it, all through, I spent a lot of time churning the psychological aspects that impact fertility, the psychology of the partners while they are dealing with it, and the psychology that happens when you have dealt with it and come out from under the proverbial cloud, so to say.
Over the years, I have had numerous occasions to meet and interact with women who dealt with similar conditions, and somewhere I can say I found a common strand.
Infertility can be completely physical, these are rare and sad cases, but most often it is not. It is a lot of physical combined with a lot psychological. The psychology preceding infertility often impacts it and aggravates it.
Being a woman, this write is penned in a woman’s perspective; it is a woman’s understanding of herself and of women around her in similar circumstances.
Women often take the brunt of an infertility condition. That’s a myth. Reality is that men are as affected and as shaken by an infertility condition as a woman. Women are vocal and expressive. They share their thoughts and feelings, they communicate, they seek support, they are visible sufferers of a situation. So naturally, they often appear to be carrying the cross solely on their shoulders. But flip the coin and look closer, and you will spot the male half suffering as intensely but with the silence that comes with male ego.
If infertility hurts women on a physical level by depriving them the experience of carrying and birthing another life form from their body, infertility destroys men on a psychological level by hammering the message that they have been incapable of proving “being-a-man” to the world. Children, to men, even if only initially till the emotions take over, are an assertion of their manliness; when they come into this world, a man feels reassured of his gender. If one can imagine the stress of a man being hit in his most sensitive region, and not being able to talk about it because it would further demean his self-esteem in the same area, and yet continue with his accepted role of primary provider – that stress would be n-number of times higher than a woman’s stress of not being able to bear a child and become a mother. Women communicate, men can’t. if women are likened to a volcano in eruption, it also follows that some day they will cool down and regain their calm; men are an active, simmering volcano that will never erupt, that can never erupt, and hence in an infinitely more dangerous situation stress-wise.
But coming to my earlier point which I set out to make – is there a common psychology in the temperament of a woman that may lead to possible conditions of infertility? I believe so, yes. There may be views here that sound anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-science or too spiritual, but this is merely a collection of fine-tuned observations, over many long years, and each observation is open to counter-opinions and counter-views.
Conception was designed by God; so were man and woman. The physical body of a man or woman was supplemented by certain psychological and emotional characteristics that went with the body form. Staying true to the characteristics defined by God helped in his ultimate goal of human multiplication and reproduction.
A woman needs a man she can submit to, someone who can take control of her body, mind and soul; someone whom she can look up to as superior but who does not make her feel inferior; someone who can understand her inner angst and make her feel loved. That’s not a tall order. Men are designed to fulfill these needs in a woman. So when this equation more or less matches, even for a brief period, it prepares the ground for the birthing process. Men give, women receive and a child is conceived. It is not merely the physical exchange but the mental and emotional giving and receiving that completes the process. The point I am stressing here is that, even if for a brief period, the woman must be completely devoid of `ego’ to conceive. Ego restricts. Humility enables.
Barring women with genuine physical conditions that restrict fertility – my observation over the years has been that women with an infertility condition often exhibit traits of high self-centeredness, ego, rigidity in views and opinions, a distinct feeling of superiority over the male partner, an inability to let go of individuality, an inability to adjust and compromise to a bigger scheme of things, fear of responsibility and a high social esteem with a need for high social recognition. Their subconscious inability to “let go” of “control” conditions the body to create a barrier against sperms during intercourse and thus effectively preventing conception, and allowing the woman “to remain in control of happenings” so to say. The psychological rules the physical; and subconscious intentions will overpower conscious intentions.
Maybe the above analysis was too absolute; maybe there is always an open door for exceptions; but my above theory also explains the concept of “secondary-infertility”. If primary infertility is having no children, secondary infertility is not being able to conceive after one child. Usually, marital equations change few years after marriage; the earlier dominant partner turns submissive and vice-versa. So perhaps, a woman who allowed her man the upper hand in an equation early in the relationship may develop ego issues at a later stage; this then hampers further fertility.
Having a child is the most ego-crushing and liberating experience for a woman. Women who have been unable to conceive and have opted for adoption usually experience a humbleness they have never felt before once a child enters their life. This transforms the psyche of the woman to become more accepting and more giving, and usually it has been observed, that fertility sets in and woman conceives naturally even in exceptional cases. Same theory applies – motherhood requires an attitude of humility, and more importantly, an attitude to allow your man to feel superior and take control.
In cases of rape, usually the woman conceives; but then this crime, this heinous animalistic act of self-gratification is by far the most ego-crushing experience for any woman; the scars of which may last over several lifetimes.
In astrology, matrimonial horoscope matching in terms of nakshatra, lagna, the placement of mars etc. are all skewed towards establishing male superiority of horoscopes. To a liberated mind, this comes across as archaic and chauvinistic – but astrology evolved as a science over many long ages and was penned by sages who dedicated lifetimes to researching planets, planetary influences on body and mind, and the effect of those influences on human relationships.
All said and done, it is an undeniable fact that women have a place of equality and a place of pride on society; they have their unique worth and are entitled to their necessary dues; it is an equally undeniable fact the every woman secretly yearns for that special man who can tame her wild spirit, imprint himself upon her consciousness, and take control of her body; when that happens, a woman comes into contact with her softer, feminine side and then she will rediscover the essence of the vedic tenets of “man and woman”, “man and wife”, “male and female”, “yin and yang”, “shiv and shakti”. Conception and birthing then becomes an automatic by-product of an equation that has touched equilibrium, even if for a brief moment.
4/28/2012 8:08:53 PM