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Stigma of Not Having Children: How It Affects Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Mar 24, 2023

Stigma of Not Having Children: How It Affects Mental Health

Recently, actress Heart Evangelista aired some of her opinions on social media regarding her choice to not yet have children. And in this day and age, why does the stigma of not having children still prevail? Read on to learn more about it, as well as the effects that it can have on a woman’s mental health.

Heart Evangelista Responds to Rude Question on TikTok: ‘Not Your Uterus’

On Heart Evangelista’s TikTok page, a user commented on the fact that she has been married for a while and yet doesn’t have children1. The actress promptly responded by saying “Ayoko eh. Didn’t anyone teach you manners? I mean you know what, if I’m not sad about it, why are you even?”

Incidentally, this wasn’t the first time that the actress was asked about being a mother. Last year, the actress shared that she wasn’t happy when people brought up the topic of motherhood with her. She added that her life is already “good” and being pregnant would just be a bonus.

She got married to Senator Francis Escudero back in 2015, and became pregnant with twins in 2018. Sadly, she lost both of the babies in a miscarriage. Ever since then, being pregnant has become a sensitive topic with the actress.

At the moment however, she has not yet expressed any plans to get pregnant soon. But she and her husband have said before that they still plan on having children in the future.

Why Does the Stigma of Not Having Children Remain?

Childlessness2, or not having children, can either be voluntary or involuntary. In the case of voluntary childlessness, a person or a couple might have decided to not have any children at all. On the other hand, involuntary childlessness means that a person or a couple want to have children, but for one reason or another, is unable to do so.

In numerous countries, including the Philippines, not having any children when you’re already of age leads to social stigma. For Filipinos, one reason for this is the expectation that when a person reaches a certain age, they should already have kids or plan to have kids.

Filipinos believe that children are a gift from God, and that they are “blessings.” There is also the cultural norm that once a woman reaches a certain age, she needs to get married and have children. This is why there is constant pressure for people to have children, whether they want to or not.

How Can It Affect Mental Health?

The stigma of not having children can weigh heavily on some people’s minds, and can even affect their mental health. For women, the pressure to have children is much more present compared to men3.

The problem with this is that some women are physically unable to bear children. And some women who are able to bear children might not want kids for personal reasons. Either way, the pressure these women experience can have a detrimental effect on their general mental health.

Some people might make them feel “inadequate”, and or even irresponsible or selfish for not having children. In fact, some women are even perceived as being “less” by other women if they are unable to have children or if they simply choose not to have children.

Men can also face judgment if they don’t have any children. If a man is sterile or doesn’t want kids, other people might judge him for being emasculated, or not being virile or manly enough to have children.

All of these things can lead to mental health problems such as added stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, feelings of blame and guilt, etc4.

Key Takeaways

At the end of the day, we need to understand that people have different circumstances in life. Some people might want to have kids, while others might choose not to.
It is not right to judge people for these decisions, since everyone should be able to take control of their life. People should be free to decide if they want children or not, and people should not judge them for their decision, and respect them instead. The stigma of not having children has no place in our society. “Not your uterus,” as Heart Evangelista said, a lesson we can all learn from.

Learn more about Mental Health here.

Image from Heart Evanglista on Tiktok.

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD

Pediatrics


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Mar 24, 2023

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