Can you be happy after Infertility?

Infertility is sad. People who are in the midst of struggling to have a child almost always feel some combination of grief, anger, and fear. It can be a toxic combination. They often wonder if they will ever feel normal—if they will ever be truly happy again.

Suffering changes us. After a while, we may return to “normal”, but it is a new normal because we are different people. The good news is that this “new normal” can be filled with happiness and now we have research to prove it.

Will You Ever Be Happy Again

Researchers* in Sweden studied quality of life between four and five and-a-half years after IVF treatment in 979 men and women. The study subject were broken into four groups:

  • Couples whose IVF treatment had failed, and they remain childless.
  • Couple whose IVF treatment were successful and they conceived a child or children.
  • Couple whose IVF treatment was unsuccessful and they adopted children.
  • Control group of couples that did not have fertility issues and who conceived naturally.

Researchers used measurement tools to determine quality of life as measured by psychological well-being and a feeling of connection. (As measured by the Psychological General Well Being (PGWB) and Sense of Coherence (SOC) instruments.) They controlled confounding factors such as demographic, socio-economic status, and health.

Surprising Findings

To the surprise of everyone, the group that showed the highest quality of life were those whose infertility treatment has failed, but they went on to adopt a child or children. They showed a higher sense of connection than all groups, including the control and the successful fertility treatment group, and a higher general sense of well-being than the unsuccessful treatment group without kids and the control group without infertility.

In addition, the group that adopted were found to be less likely to need medical care, used fewer medications, smoked less and reported less long term illness than other groups.

As you would expect, those whose IVF treatment had failed and who were still childless showed the lowest levels of satisfaction with life.

Co-author Dr. Marie Berg said that the “suffering” childless couples endure can contribute to their later happiness.

Do you see this in your life or in the lives of your friends who have experienced infertility?

Study: Quality of life after adopting compared with childbirth with or without assisted reproduction. Hogström L1, Johansson M, Janson PO, Berg M, Francis J, Sogn J, Hellström AL, Adolfsson A. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2012 Sep;91(9):1077-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2012.01491.x. Epub 2012 Jul 24.