Omega Family Global provides this information on the mental impact of infertility as a courtesy to its clients and site visitors. If you have any questions, please contact us.
Mental Health Impact of Infertility
Regardless of an Intended Parent’s race, creed, gender, and culture, infertility (inability to have children when desired) often affects mental health and creates personal suffering. The consequences of infertility can be psychologically and socially harmful for both men and women. Fortunately, great advances in assisted reproductive technologies have taken place over the past decade to eliminate some of these psychological and social stresses. Nonetheless, medical insurance coverage is not always possible, and assisted reproductive technologies treatments and procedures may lie outside the financial possibility for some intended parents (Note: Omega Family Global can offer financing in some case for assisted reproductive technologies procedures).
Intended Parents experiencing infertility have been described to have a number of emotional symptoms. Some of these conditions include:
- Anger that other people seem to have children effortlessly
- Envy of others who have children
- Denial that a problem exists, and living with the hope the situation will change soon
- Sadness when the difficulties continue
- Financial Pressure, as couples undergoing fertility treatments spend more money than they are comfortable with
- A sense of Loss of the experience of being a parent, including a frustration over lack of control of his/her life
- Shame: for a woman, the feeling of being not a real woman or not a complete woman; for a man, a sense of questionable masculinity
- Tension for males who may experience performance anxiety around the time of ovulation, and for the couple, for whom sex might become a chore rather than a pleasure.
Infertility can place stress on a couple’s relationship itself. Couples dealing with infertility matters are more likely to be unhappy about their relationship. This unhappiness can manifest in feelings of inadequacy (both men and women) and seed fear of abandonment.
Additional Stresses for Fertility Treatment
Infertility alone poses psychological and social stress; however, additional stress can be incurred by those undergoing fertility treatments.
In their publication entitled Psychological Impact of Infertility, Drs. Cousineau and Domar summarized the situation as follows(1):
The medicalization of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatization, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood. Evidence is emerging of an association between stress of fertility treatment and patient drop-out and pregnancy rates. Fortunately, psychological interventions, especially those emphasizing stress management and coping-skills training, have been shown to have beneficial effects for infertility patients. Further research is needed to understand the association between distress and fertility outcome, as well as effective psychosocial interventions.
Surveys of psychological symptoms of infertile women and women with various chronic medical conditions found clinical depression rates in those trying to conceive similar to that of women who have heart disease or cancer (2).
References and Additional Information
- Cousineau TM, Domar AD. (2007). “Psychological impact of infertility”. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 21 (2): 293–308
- Domar AD, Zuttermeister PC, Friedman R (1993). “The psychological impact of infertility: a comparison with patients with other medical conditions”. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 14 (Suppl): 45–52.
Additional information from a Harvard Medical School summary article regarding depression, infertility and psychological treatments can be found in the link below.