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Stress & FertilityTwo Women talking

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 IVF patients.

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 irritability
  • Persistent feeling of guilt or worthlessness
  • 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 Linda Kondilis, PHD, facilitating discussions with patients on the journey to parenthood.

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