How Infertility Affects Your Mental Health

If you’re having trouble becoming pregnant, you aren’t alone. Roughly one in eight couples struggles to get pregnant after 12 months of trying. A number of factors play a role in your ability to get pregnant, including age, health status, medical history, lifestyle, and hormones. Dealing with fertility issues can be tough, and the psychological impact is often overlooked. Understanding how infertility can affect your mental health arms you with knowledge and information you can use to care for your mental health, while navigating your options.

There are options.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should know that about 90% of cases of infertility can be treated with conventional therapies to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Dr. Richard Bardowell, a leading OB/GYN in Burbank, California, provides guidance, support, and treatment to couples struggling to become pregnant. 

Surgery, medication, and in vitro fertilization are conventional treatment options that can boost your chances of getting pregnant. After confirming your fertility status, Dr. Bardowell can help you understand your treatment options so that together you can move forward after making an informed decision.

Infertility raises the risk of anxiety and depression.

When surveyed, women and men struggling with infertility reported feeling anxious and depressed. In fact, research concludes that couples having trouble getting pregnant experience anxiety and depression levels similar to people with cancer or recovering from a heart attack. Women and men also reported a negative impact on their self-esteem from an inability to conceive.

Infertility stress may affect relationships.

The shock and grief that comes with infertility can greatly impact relationships between partners as well as those close to them, including family and close friends. Those close to you may offer well-meaning, but misguided, advice that causes additional pain and suffering. You may experience distress when spending time with friends and family who have young children, or may find yourself avoiding social interactions with people in your life who are pregnant or have children to reduce painful emotions.

Problems getting pregnant may cause you to feel a loss of a sense of control over your destiny, and you may experience feelings of anger and despair. These factors can have a significant impact on your close relationships, contributing to anxiety and depression.

Loss and mental health

Many couples struggling with infertility experience miscarriage along their journey. The distress and feelings of loss experienced after the loss of an unborn baby can greatly impact your mental health. Each individual experiences loss differently, but many couples report deep feelings of grief and sadness, withdrawing from social interactions and feelings of hopelessness, particularly couples who suffer more than one miscarriage. Research suggests that having a miscarriage raises the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Infertility treatment stress

When you begin pursuing treatment for infertility, you may experience anxiety associated with treatment and the unknown outcome. Women who have experienced a miscarriage in the past may feel anxious and scared over the potential for experiencing another loss. Differences of opinion between couples on when to stop seeking treatment can put a strain on the relationship, and treatment failure can add a new cycle of grief and distress.

Support can help.

Couples struggling with infertility who seek support from close friends and family and through counseling or psychotherapy are better able to cope with the distress of infertility. Short-term counseling provides tools and coping strategies that help ease the anxiety and depression linked to infertility. Specific types of psychotherapy may be useful in helping to strengthen relationships, resolve conflicts, and improve distressing emotions.

Millions of men and women face infertility, and the numbers are rising each year. Dealing with a multitude of medical decisions and uncertainty can create major emotional distress. We can help you make the best choice for you and provide support through every step. For more information on diagnosing and treatment of infertility, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Bardowell. Call our Burbank, California, office, or book your appointment online. 

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