Mental Health and Infertility

Chances are you are aware of the mental health impact that being diagnosed with infertility has caused in your life. If you are a friend or family member of someone going through infertility, being aware of the mental health impact will allow you to provide better support. I want to begin by validating that all the feelings you are experiencing while walking through infertility are valid.  Infertility is hard and we easily slip into this space of doubting our bodies and slip away from who we were before this diagnosis. Infertility does not define who you are. I also want to validate that infertility is an actual medical diagnosis even though insurance likes to think otherwise. It is not elective, it is not a choice, and unfortunately, treatment is not a choice as the cost is a barrier to receiving care. Infertility is the 4th leading cause of trauma in women. Trauma!

Research supporting your emotions during infertility

Several studies have found that the incidence of depression in infertile couples is undoubtedly higher than infertile couples. Research demonstrated women presenting for IVF treatment were more depressed, had lower self-esteem, and were less confident than those who conceived naturally. For those who endured a  failed IVF cycle, these factors did get worse. A study conducted with 200 couples found that half of the women and 15 percent of the men said that infertility was the most upsetting experience of their lives. It is important to highlight the emotional impact of infertility does affect men too.

Finding support has proven benefits

I always longed for a support group and connecting with others going through infertility at the same time. It was a big reason I founded the nonprofit Everlasting Hope. Research has proved that psychotherapy and support groups decrease stress, anxiety, and depression in those diagnosed with infertility and even increase fertility rates. These feelings didn’t go away once I was pregnant, it continued well into my second trimester. Those feelings of constant fear, anxiety, the what-ifs are overwhelming, all while trying so hard to remain optimistic that I was pregnant. This could be a local support group, virtual support group, Facebook group, or an anonymous Instagram account. This is a great place to post your story and find support. I host a free community on Facebook that you will not only find support in but free education information.

In this week’s podcast, I discuss four tips that I have found effective for myself and my patients to move through this roller coaster of emotions. Know that your feelings are valid!