Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or after trying for 6 months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. Infertility affects 10-15 percent of couples.
Women who have difficulty conceiving often experience the following:
Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is clear that infertility can affect mental health. It’s possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety, and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation. This could make it difficult for a woman to become pregnant.
Couples with infertility have many treatments available to help them conceive. Most of these treatments cost a lot of money and may not be covered by health insurance. While many couples who seek infertility treatment are already stressed, the process and cost of assisted reproduction itself can also cause anxiety, depression, and stress. If you are trying fertility treatments and they are not working, you may often become further depressed and have self-esteem problems. Try to keep a positive attitude, and be sure to talk to your doctor about getting help if you feel you need it. A number of research studies show that women who are distressed have lower pregnancy rates among women trying infertility treatments.
What impact does infertility have on emotional well-being?
Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life crises that a couple has ever experienced together. The inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval for most couples. If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, or isolated, you are not alone.
How psychological treatment help you cope with infertility
Mental health professionals with experience in infertility treatment can help a great deal. Their primary goal is to help individuals and couples learn how to cope with the physical and emotional changes associated with infertility, as well as with the medical treatments that can be painful and intrusive. For some, the focus may be on how to deal with a partner’s response. For others, it may be on how to choose the right medical treatment or how to begin exploring other family building options.
Some couples may need help on how to control stress, anxiety, or depression. Mental health professionals can help you work through your grief, fear, and other emotions so that you can find resolution with your infertility. A good therapist can help you sort out feelings, strengthen already present coping skills and develop new ones, and communicate with others more clearly. For many, the life crisis of infertility eventually proves to be an opportunity for life-enhancing personal growth.