Being child free

Sunday 1 May, 2016

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After unsuccessful fertility treatment, you may come to accept that you won’t have a child. You might feel like you ran out of time, money or energy to keep trying to have a child.

Not being able to have a child may cause a range of emotions, including:

  • sadness or emptiness
  • a sense of grief or loss
  • relief, contentment or happiness
  • empowerment, if you made the choice.

In some cases, people say they feel child-free and not child-less.

It may be a gradual transition to accepting that you won’t have a child and learning to enjoy the benefits of being child-free – more time to pursue hobbies, focus on your relationship, advance your career or afford a different lifestyle. Many people have happy and fulfilling lives without children.

Your feelings may change over time, and may depend on if you have a partner and how they feel. If you want support, a counsellor, social worker or psychologist can talk to you about being child-free and help you deal with challenging situations (for example, if your partner feels differently to you).

Not everyone wants to be a parent and this may not change over time.

Reviewers: Prof Roger Hart, Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia and Professor of Reproductive Medicine, School of Women’s and Infant Health, University of Western Australia, WA; Dr Antoinette Anazodo, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncologist, Sydney Children’s and Prince of Wales Hospitals, Director of the Sydney Youth Cancer Service, NSW; Brenda Kirkwood, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Dr Michael McEvoy, Director of Clinical Services, Flinders Fertility, SA; Eden Robertson, Research Officer, Behavioural Sciences Unit, Sydney Children’s Hospital, NSW; Kayla Schmidt, Consumer; A/Prof Kate Stern, Head of Fertility Preservation Service, The Royal Women’s Hospital and Melbourne IVF, Head Endocrine and Metabolic Service, Royal Women’s Hospital and Clinical Director, Melbourne IVF, VIC; and Prof Jane Ussher, Centre for Health Research, Western Sydney University, NSW.