The Connection Between Infertility & Mental Health—As Told By An Expert

A majority of couples with infertility have high levels of psychological distress. Feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, frustrated, and irritated is commonly seen in these couples. Couples need to seek help before stress due to infertility affects every aspect of their lives. We chatted with Dr Sulbha Arora, Clinical Director at Nova IVF Fertility, Mumbai to understand how mental health affects one’s fertility and here’s what they had to say!

Infertility or the inability to conceive is becoming an increasingly common problem. 1 out of every 6 couples trying to conceive may face difficulty doing so. Those who learn that they are infertile often experience stressful emotions, common to those who are grieving any significant loss. The typical responses include shock, grief, depression, anger, and frustration.Along with this, there can be a sense of loss of self-esteem, low self-confidence, and loss of control over one’s destiny. Not only this, but the marital relationship may also suffer between husband and wife. In fact, the strain may be felt not only in the relationship between the husband and wife, but, even their relationships with other family members or friends who may unintentionally cause some kind of distress by offering misguided opinions or advice.Couple holding a pregnancy test

Consequences Of Infertility On Mental Well-Being

In India, there is a great emphasis on fertility. So, at times, couples tend to feel isolated, they feel they are being judged. Couples dealing with problems facing conception might avoid social interaction with friends and family members who are pregnant or with families who have children. They may struggle with anxiety-related dysfunction and other marital conflicts. While medical interventions offer much-needed help and hope, they may also add to the stress and anxiety that the patients are already experiencing from infertility itself.

Couples who have lost a pregnancy, undergone a miscarriage, or lost a baby at a later stage of pregnancy may go through the same kind of grief or loss that a couple who has lost a live-born child will go through.

It is natural to have these kinds of feelings and emotional ups and downs during fertility treatment. Feeling overwhelmed at times is a perfectly normal response. Many patients find a way to cope on their own or seek support from friends, family, and fertility support groups offline or online. Some may need additional help when they have symptoms like depression, difficulty in concentration, sleep disturbances for a prolonged period of time and may benefit from mental health professionals.

If you find yourself, anxious, depressed, and stressed then you are not alone. Infertility often creates one of the most distressing life experiences that the couple has undergone together. It can be a most stressful experience. Long-term inability to conceive a child can evoke significant feelings of loss. Coping with the problems of making medical decisions and uncertainties can create emotional upheaval for most couples. Thus, counselling, psychotherapy, relaxation techniques, and medication will be helpful.

Couple thinking about a baby By cocone | www.shutterstock.comCouple thinking about a baby

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