Infertility Stress Grieving in Dubai

Infertility Stress Grieving in Dubai

By Mona Moussa PhD - LifeWorks Trainer

Infertility, Stress, Loss and Grief

According to the 2010 Dubai Health Authority (DHA) report on the demands in fertility services in Dubai, 27,276 men and women face infertility challenges in Dubai.

Infertility and Grief in Dubai

Infertility can be highly taxing as couples brace themselves for the roller coaster ride of hope and grief month after month, and as they put their plans on hold such as vacation, education, and career plans.

While the physical effects of infertility are thoroughly dealt with in medical settings, the emotional effects can sometimes go unnoticed.

According to an article by the Harvard Health Publications (2010), emotional effects can include:

  • grief
  • shock
  • depression
  • anger
  • frustration
  • loss of self-esteem
  • loss of self-confidence
  • loss of sense of control

  • A Complex Grief

    However, these neatly enumerated emotional effects are far from capturing the complexity of the experience of infertility. In fact, studies show that women suffering from infertility can exhibit the same levels of anxiety and depression as patients suffering from cancer (Domar, Zuttermeister, & Friedman, 1993).

    As Louise Williams reflects in her article " I know the pain of infertility and talking about it helps", the grief associated with infertility has no clearly delineated end, and the associated pain is not easily encapsulated in a few words. It is "a failure of the past to have provided something for the future". It is the grief of a loss that has no "real" presence and yet that can take over almost every aspect of the couple's life and relationships.

    Misunderstood by Society

    Infertility and Grief in Dubai

    Couples struggling with the challenges of infertility may also face unintentional additional pain by their surrounding environment. This could be following well-meaning but unwanted advice following the loss of a pregnancy, or following pregnancy announcements or baby shower invitations by friends and family members.

    Society's unspoken expectations and implicit pressure around bearing children can often be taxing on women especially as they start to feel as though there is something wrong in them. This can be further compounded by society's failure to recognize the implications of the grief caused by infertility. As such, couples may find themselves having to deal with not only their own pain but also the compounded pain of having to deal with society's misconceptions and misunderstandings of infertility as they relive their loss and pain twice.

    For example, as couples deal with the pain of months of hope followed by crashing disappointment, they may grieve the loss of "what could have been", the pain of waiting with great expectations only to come crashing down with the beginning of a new cycle, the stress of going to extreme measures to do everything right and to change their whole lifestyle only to get disappointed time and time again. Yet, society can find it difficult to acknowledge such pain because there is no "actual loss" and as such there is "no grief", all of which can push couples into deeper despair as they find themselves isolated, and their grief invalidated.

    Managing the Pain

  • Couples suffering from the pain and stress of infertility are often encouraged to acknowledge the hardship and intense pain caused by infertility even if society does not fully grasp its complexity.

  • Couple are encouraged to recognize the ways in which they may be contributing to their own despair through unhelpful negative thoughts such as "It's all my fault, I shouldn't have waited...I should have lost more weight …". Couples instead are encouraged to focus on the present and let go of the regret of the past and the worry of the future. Mindfulness techniques can be particularly helpful in this case.

  • Couples are encouraged to keep the flow of communication going between them. This is particularly important since the stress of infertility can result in added pressure in the relationship especially when partners have different perceptions of infertility and different ways of expressing and dealing with grief
  • .

  • Couples are encouraged to learn to say no to a baby shower or other child-focused invitations if it causes too much pain. Couples could instead send an online voucher or a book as a gift to avoid having to go to a toy store or a baby shop which could be too painful.

  • Couples are encouraged to practice self-care. While this may not be easy to do, couples are encouraged to try and pursue activities that bring them joy in an attempt to create a positive space away from the pain of infertility.

  • Mostly, couples are encouraged to fully acknowledge the depth and intensity of their experience in their journey to achieve acceptance of whatever the future may hold for them.


    Domar, A.D., Zuttermeister, PC, & Friedman, R. (1993). The psychological impact of infertility: A comparison with patients with other medical conditions. Journal of Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol., 14, Suppl: 45-52.

    Lambert, L. (2014, June). I know the pain of infertility and talking about it helps.
    Retrieved from i-know-the-pain-of-infertility-and-talking-about-it-helps

    The demands for fertility services in Dubai (2010, February). Retrieved from

    The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment (2009, May 1st). Retrieved from

    About the Author

    Mona Moussa, PhD

    Personal Development Trainer at LifeWorks

    Mona has a PhD, and a Masters in Counselling Psychology.

    Mona speaks Arabic and has counselled in Lebanon, Australia, and Qatar. Her cross-cultural experience and deep knowledge of the Middle-Eastern culture allows her to provide a comprehensive approach to dealing with difficulties and challenges. Mona is passionate about reaching out to others to help them grow and reach their fullest potential.

    Mona's work at LifeWorks involves working with Mindfulness principles. Based on extensive empirical research, Mona believes that the path towards managing grief and pain consists of accepting its presence rather than trying to push it away, struggling with the shattered views of one's life following the loss in an attempt to rebuild new, adaptive, and more realistic views, as growth and a higher level of functioning is ultimately reached.

    Mona's work is done through group training workshops, or individually tailored workshops on a one-on-one basis.

    Mona Moussa LifeWorks Dubai staff

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