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Bittersweet Joy: Post-Infertility Parenting

Minding Your Marriage

Infertility treatment can take a terrible toll on a couple's sex life. Feelings of failure can taint the intimacy and passion between partners. Years of scheduled intercourse can wear down their sense of spontaneity and fun. And the stigma of infertility can warp a woman's image of herself, says Judith Lewis, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Nursing.

Men commonly suffer sexual dysfunction after infertility treatment. Though seldom required to undergo invasive surgical procedures, men can be affected by the cold, mechanical nature of supplying sperm for in vitro fertilization into a cup.

And the transition to parenthood - a stress on any marriage - can add further strain.

Experts emphasize that talking about your feelings is essential, giving each other some room to grumble, as well as lots of love and support.

Make an effort to revive dating too. "Within a few months after the birth, you need to get out, just the two of you," says Peter Kaplan, M.D., a clinical instructor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.

"Now that you're launched as a family," says therapist Ellen Glazer, "it's time to begin reexperiencing the pleasure and passion that were part of your relationship and inspired you to have a family."