Stress & Infertility - What You Need to Know
- In general, stress does not seem to be a primary cause of infertility. A medical diagnosis for infertility can be found for about 85% of couples seeking treatment. Even for patients with unexplained infertility, stress is probably not the primary underlying cause. It is more likely that there is a medical cause that is difficult to detect.
Infertility Stress: What Research Shows
While stress may not be a primary cause of infertility, infertility stress may impact treatment outcome. There is growing evidence from research over the past two decades that some types of emotional stress may decrease the chance of pregnancy. Most of these studies have been conducted with IVF patients. Three main findings have emerged from these studies.
- Patients who are "worriers" by nature, who tend to be more anxious or nervous in general, are no less likely to conceive from IVF than patients who are not worriers.
Anxiety and Infertility
An excessive preoccupation with infertility can lead to low self-esteem, increased marital stress, and emotional distance between partners--all possible causes or consequences of anxiety and infertility. Patients who tend to feel anxious may also be more apprehensive about the medical aspects of treatment. Additional support for infertility is often very helpful in addressing these issues.
Depression and Infertility
Many studies suggest a relationship between depression and infertility: depression or negative emotional distress may have an impact on treatment outcome for IVF patients. Patients with symptoms of depression seem less likely to conceive than those who are not depressed.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling down or blue most of the time
- A loss of interest in usual activities
- Low energy
- Difficulty with concentration
- Change in sleep patterns or appetite
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Persistent feeling of guilt or worthlessness
- Persistent irritability
- Preoccupation with negative thoughts or worries
- Withdrawal from friends
Support for InfertilityWith many strategies of support for infertility, there are many positive ways to cope with emotional distress and optimize your chance of pregnancy. We offer the following in-house services for our patients:
- Confidential infertilty counseling services for individuals and couples
- Mind Body programs for women undergoing infertility treatment
- Pregnancy after infertility support groups
- Recipient Couples support groups