Stress & Infertility
Infertility Counseling in Atlanta
Many couples wonder about the relationship between stress and infertility.
While most people know from personal experience that infertility is stressful,
they are less informed about how stress may affect fertility.
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, it can have an
impact on your 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
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. Contrary to the advice and opinions you may have
heard from well-meaning loved ones, worrying about getting pregnant is
not going to affect the outcome of your treatment cycle.
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. Even mild to moderate
symptoms of depression should be treated in order to optimize the chance
of a successful treatment outcome.
It is normal to feel some emotional distress when undergoing infertility
treatment. We recommend meeting with a counselor who specializes in infertility
if you need help sorting out possible symptoms of depression from more
typical worries and concerns of patients undergoing infertility treatment.
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 Infertility
With many strategies of support for infertility, there are many positive
ways to cope with emotional distress and optimize your chance of pregnancy.
We can also make a referral to other mental and emotional health professionals
who can provide assistance.
ACRM is pleased to offer our patients a weekly support group, free of charge,
with Maureen Martin, LCSW, LMFT, facilitating discussions with patients
on the journey to parenthood.