Infertility & Women’s Mental Health
Infertility is a disease that is characterized as a failure to establish a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or regular, unprotected sexual intercourse or due to an impairment of a person’s capacity to reproduce either as an individual or with a partner (Hunter, et. al, 2022). It is estimated that 1 in 8 couples will have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Approximately 40% of infertility cases are due to female factor, 40% are due male factor, and 20% are a combination or unexplained (Hunter, et. al, 2022). This is a heartbreaking reality for many couples across the globe. In fact, it is estimated that in the United States alone, roughly 6 million women suffer from infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Are The Risk Factors for Infertility?
Infertility can be caused by a variety of health issues. The most common is Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal disorder that negatively impacts ovulation.
Other disorders that cause infertility in women are:
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Uterus deformities or abnormalities
- Reproductive health (menstration, multiple miscarriages, abnormal pap smear, sexual transmitted diseases can cause pelvic inflammatory diseases)
- General health (weight, chronic diseases, hormonal imbalance, substance use)
And finally, one of the primary reasons for infertility is a woman’s age. Nearly one-third of all women over the age of 35 experience fertility issues.
Infertility and a Woman’s Mental Health
Infertility can be very stressful and it has an impact a woman’s mental health. Research published by the North Carolina Medical Journal found that common mental health concerns of fertility patients are symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Patients frequently report that each month’s cycle becomes a tumultuous storm of emotions ranging from anger, sadness, fear, and guilt. And the more demanding and intrusive the fertility treatment protocols become, the greater the emotions felt.
Much focus is given to the physical aspects of not being able to conceive. But it is important for women to recognize that their mental health may be impacted and to get help.
If you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety or depression because of infertility issues, please feel free to reach out to me. I would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.