Understanding the Difficulties in Infertility and Divorce

  • Because of how connected marriage is to having a baby, those who face fertility difficulty find themselves vulnerable to divorce.
  • Studies suggest a relationship between infertility and divorce.
  • Men and women struggle individually with infertility on an emotional level.

When you get married, you are looking to spend the rest of your life with the person that you love the most, start a family together, and watch the years go by in familial bliss. You are looking to create a familial unit for yourself and for your future, and for many, that includes children.

However, when medical reasons prevent you from having children, it can send you into a spiral that you were not ready for. Whether infertility is because of you or your wife, it can make a significant impact to your relationship and marital problems where there was previously none.

Expectations and time

Part of that stems from expectations. Deciding that you are ready to start trying for a baby feels like a form of taking control of your future, and it often occurs without even thinking about how hard it might be or what obstacles could get in the way of you and your spouse doing so, according to Psychology Today.

Because of the fact that conception may not happen right away, there is a sense of impatience, in that you are ready to have a child but it is just not happening. Time goes by, and nothing happens. These feelings build over time, and blame can find itself being placed, causing marital conflict for something that may be simply out of both you and your spouses’ hands.

Biological theory

Many studies have examined the relationship between infertility and the act of getting a divorce. Biological Anthropologist Helen E. Fisher theorized that the reason that infertility may be a popular cause of marital problems that lead to a divorce is biological.

She stated that Charles Darwin theorized that people marry primarily to breed, and because infertility makes that an impossibility, the relationship cannot be sustainable.

The connection

More recent studies have examined how infertility may lead to divorce. A study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica examined 47,500 women and found that those who do not have a child after fertility treatment are three times more likely to divorce or end cohabitation with their partner than those that do.

Researchers found that more than one-quarter of the women (26.7 percent) that were studied, were either divorced or living alone by the last follow-up appointment.

These results speak to the intense amount of work that couples may go through. The difficulty that many face with fertility treatments cannot be understated, but for some couples, it is simply too much. They feel overwhelmed by the process and find that ending the relationship is easier than battling their own infertility.

Generalizations and questions

Much of the thoughts surrounding the notion that there is a relationship between infertility and divorce are independent of generalizations. They involve many individual stories of couples who struggled with infertility, and while some of them had marital conflict and divorce, some did not.

Many question the stability of the marriages prior to experiencing fertility issues and speculate that the problems that existed were not a direct result of not being able to conceive a child.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Men and women and infertility

Others look to explore the general behaviors surrounding heterosexual couples dealing with fertility issues and how it affects the long-term viability of marriages. Dr. Erica Berman, of The Huffington Post, found in her professional experience that women experiencing infertility often become fixated on conceiving and have difficulty in day-to-day activities, such as sleeping or concentrating at work. They can experience mood swings and intense levels of jealousy and resentment toward others who have children or are pregnant.

This can lead to depression and anxiety symptoms beginning to form. They can find themselves withdrawing socially, in order to escape the unpleasant feelings they may experience around pregnant women or women with children. The men in these relationships are attempting to support their partner without fully understanding what they are going through, creating a deep disconnect within their marital relationship.

For men going through infertility, they also are facing an uphill, emotionally-unhealthy battle. A study by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine examined 274 infertile men undergoing treatment and found that 32 were diagnosed with depression. Additionally, more than 60 percent of them met the clinical criteria for anxiety. Only 11 percent of them had received counseling.

The taboo nature of male infertility can paralyzing for many, which is why some would rather end their relationships and cut of social ties than confront the harsh reality that they are living. These men would rather end their marriage, because they suddenly see themselves with shame, as embarrassments, and as ‘less of a man.’


Adding the challenges to their psyche to the financial problems that fertility testing and treatment can cause, it adds stress to married couple, lending itself to the divorce process.

After going through something as traumatic as finding out about your own infertility, many married couples can no longer deal with the union, because they were built on very specific dreams and expectations that they had. Because of how many of those dreams are no longer feasible, they no longer feel attached and find it necessary to move on.

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