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Gearing Advantage

Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

Their methods and strategies have been sharpened over the years, and are now built upon Gearing Up’s Three Gears of Change.

Infertility Stress - Sept 23, 2006

Infertility Stress

September 23, 2006

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, CBS 11 News

The diagnosis of infertility can be devastating to couples yearning for a baby. Now, figures from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine reveal that up to one in ten Americans will experience infertility at some point during their reproductive years. Here to tell us more about this topic is psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: Why is infertility so devastating for young couples?

Dr. Sylvia: For most of us, the concept that we would ever face infertility is unimaginable. If we are in reasonably good health, most of us take for granted our ability to reproduce. Once you adjust to the shock of infertility, you often feel extremely isolated. Although you are not facing a life-threatening illness or financial ruin, many people are traumatized by this very difficult challenge. In fact, some studies suggest that infertility can be as traumatic as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Q: Is infertility increasing?

Dr. Sylvia: It really depends on which study you read. However, infertility has become big business and young couples are much more aware of the emotional fallout from this condition. As a result, psychologists are seeing many more people for infertility-related depression, anxiety and marital issues. And with the availability of contraception, the number of working women who are postponing childbearing to the later marital ages, infertility is going to increase. Currently, 20% of American women wait to begin their families until after age 35.

Q: Do women blame themselves if they have waited?

Dr. Sylvia: Unfortunately, many women still define their self-worth by their ability to conceive. Women are worriers, and we search for answers to setbacks when there are often few clear reasons why things happen. We do know that men and women are equally likely to contribute to a couple's fertility problem. Each gender accounts for up to 40% of the problem, with the remaining 20% being due to combined or unknown reasons.

Q: We hear so much about women's biological clock. Don't men have a timeline also?

Dr. Sylvia: A flurry of new genetic and epidemiological studies now argue that men may also have problems with fertility as they age. While females continue to have a higher risk of abnormalities or infertility as they age, men begin to show some DNA issues in their sperm in their forties. The medical advice is clear: the optimum age for childbearing remains in young adulthood--the twenties and thirties for both genders.

Q: What are the main reasons for infertility stress for men and women?

Dr. Sylvia: Here are a number of stressors couples face:

1. Helplessness: Remember that the stress we choose--even if it is overwhelming--is so much more tolerable than the stress that comes unexpectedly. Infertility epitomizes helplessness.

2. Shifting Expectations: We are in an era of shifting gender roles. Millions of men and women have a conviction that things will work out for them if they just work hard enough. Infertility is a rude awakening to factors beyond our control. It can cause a huge crisis of faith.

3. Agonizing Choices: Once involved with infertility treatments, couples must decide at some point how far they are willing to go to conceive their own child. What exact price they will pay--emotionally, physically, financially, socially and logistically--can be an agonizing problem.

4. Changing Relationship Dynamics: Infertility can deeply affect the dynamics of relationships. Poor communication, financial stress, and the emotional rollercoaster caused by hormonal treatment are all factors that compound couple tension.

Q: So how do you stay sane and stay married?

Dr. Sylvia: Here are some helpful tips and strategies:

1. Build Control by Educating Yourself: Become knowledgeable about the treatment and read everything you can.

2. Friends are Good Medicine: Build a network of friends who have gone through the treatments (hopefully successfully) and a group of friends who are experiencing it at the same time.

Celebrate Your Love: Never use your ability to conceive as a barometer of your marriage. Consciously avoid blame and remember that there are many ways to become a parent in the world.