When couples decide to start a family, a clear plan needs to be in place. Factors such as how many children to have and when and where to raise a family require careful thought and consideration. The journey can be exciting, but it can also pose challenges when barriers to family planning arise. “Problems arise when sex is not resulting in conception or a healthy pregnancy and live birth,” says Phyllis Martin, an infertility counselor in Fairfax, Virginia. “When this occurs, patients have several choices depending on the problem.” Recognizing the potential barriers can help you prepare for a healthy, happy family.
Some couples may experience a barrier in family planning when it has been determined that either the male or female is unable to conceive a child. According to Martin, 40 percent of infertility is a male factor, 40 percent is a female factor and the rest is unknown. “This means it is not always or usually a female problem, but in all cases, the women must be patients, too,” says Martin. Although this barrier is disheartening for couples wanting to start a family, it opens the door for other options like hormone therapy treatment, medical procedures, and even adoption.
When a couple is unable to plan a family through a healthy pregnancy or live birth, medical procedures can offer opportunities but also financial barriers. “Cost is one of the biggest barriers to treatment, because insurance usually does not pay for the more invasive procedures or costly medicines,” says Martin. Hormone therapy, fertility medication and in-vitro fertilization are just a few of the procedures couples can consider if financially able.
Family planning is an important aspect of any couple’s relationship. Differences in beliefs can pose a barrier to the family’s future when couples are not in agreement. Marital disagreements, differences in religious beliefs and personal concerns about genetics can cause strife between partners when planning for the family’s future. Martin recommends couples work through differences with support groups, therapy, family planning workshops and meetings with spiritual leaders to determine a plan that works for both of you.
Coping with differences in opinion regarding family planning can lead to a difficult emotional toll. Couples facing infertility may also feel as if they're riding an emotional roller coaster. “Infertile couples frequently beat themselves up and feel like they are defective,” says Rink Murray, a physician specializing in infertility at Tennessee Reproductive Medicine. “Infertile couples also feel guilty for not enjoying other people’s pregnancy, for feeling jealous or hostile toward women who easily conceive.” Discussing your concerns and your feelings with a family therapist or couples facing the same barriers can help ease your mind and focus your efforts on options for your family’s future.