Making the choice whether to have children can be a significant decision. When that choice is taken away from you, regardless of where you stand, it can have a serious impact on your overall health.
The link between infertility and mental health can manifest in depression, anxiety and sadness. Read on to take a closer look at these effects and what it means to be diagnosed with infertility.
Infertility is a broad term used to describe a number of different conditions that can affect people hoping to have a child. An infertile person is “unable to procreate, carry or deliver a baby naturally” through what’s known as “spontaneous pregnancy” in the medical world.
These conditions can be partially or completely fixable, giving partners a chance to conceive entirely on their own. But sometimes, there’s is no way of reversing the condition that causes infertility.
For some, learning that they are unlikely to have biological children of their own can be a chance to reevaluate their lives and make different plans moving forward. For others, this diagnosis can be more than just disheartening. It can be completely devastating to lose that picture of what you thought your life would be like.
Though it can be difficult to talk about infertility anxiety and depression, infertility can have a serious impact on your well-being that deserves to be addressed. Learning that the course of your life will be different from what you had expected requires a great deal time and, when needed, support.
The Link Between Infertility and Mental Health
The emotions associated with an infertility diagnosis can be difficult to handle. Anxiety, depression and sadness can escalate into long-term struggles with your infertility and mental health, including feelings of guilt, failure and inadequacy.
It’s important to understand that all of these feelings are valid and it’s good to take the time to experience them. You deserve the opportunity to grieve the loss of the life you envisioned for yourself. But you also deserve to go on living with new plans, dreams and goals.
Coming out on the other side of this emotional darkness may seem impossible to do on your own. That’s where mental health support can help.
How Infertility Drugs Affect Mental Health
An infertility diagnosis is not always a “no” on your journey to biological children — you may just need to change course. Still, sometimes the methods used to try and change that “no” to a “yes” can introduce complications of their own.
Unfortunately, some of the medications and drugs used to treat infertility can have effects on your mental health. Prescribed drugs can have side effects as they work to restore equilibrium in your brain, which can result in briefly increased feelings of depression or anxiety.
Consider, in turn, the amount of pressure you and a partner may be feeling over the course of a medication. You may feel more stressed with every month that passes, putting infertility-related anxiety and sadness at the forefront.
It’s normal to feel anxious through this process. Working with a mental health professional during infertility treatment can help you address your organic feelings, as well as the ones exacerbated through medications, life pressures and other complications.
Can Psychological Factors Cause Infertility?
Sometimes infertility has no identifiable medical cause. This brings us to a different class of infertility diagnosis: when mental health may play a role in infertility.
In these cases, doctors will explain to you that there is nothing wrong with your reproductive system, but will diagnose infertility based on psychological factors. Excessive stress and anxiety can have tangible effects on your ability to conceive.
Having a psychological cause to your infertility doesn’t mean you simply need to stop “imagining it.” It’s very common for partners to experience stress when trying to get pregnant, which can then put excessive strain on their bodies and make it more difficult for the process to happen naturally. Sometimes anxiety can even encourage unconscious self-sabotaging tendencies, regardless of how much effort you’ve been putting in otherwise.
A mental health professional can help you get to the root of your feelings not just about infertility, but about pregnancy and the realities of being a parent. Are you feeling afraid of or insecure about what’s to come? These feelings can have real consequences for your attempts to get pregnant and place additional stress on your relationship.
If your fears are medical as well as psychological, combining treatments can help to reduce your infertility anxiety and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy. Support networks are available for all aspiring parents, be they doctors and fertility experts or therapists and psychiatrists.
How Can I Treat These Mental Health Issues?
Mental health professionals come in a range of different focuses and backgrounds. Some are even specially certified to help people through infertility-related depression and anxiety. From there, you have different options for your mental health treatment to consider.
Psychotherapy is a popular choice. In psychotherapy, a professional moderates interpersonal sessions meant to diagnose and treat problems in the relationship. Think of couples’ therapy, but instead of treating a dysfunctional dynamic, this treatment is meant to identify and soothe anything that may be contributing to a psychological block. You can also discuss feelings of depression, anxiety and stress related to parenthood or your infertility experience.
Certain relaxation techniques also come highly recommended, especially when it comes to relieving the strain on your body. If the link between infertility and mental health is causing you distress, relaxation can quell those feelings and improve your chances of success in spontaneous pregnancy.
FHE Health Is Here to Help
Infertility is more common than people think — and while it can be a painful, uncertain experience, you and yours can come out the other side stronger and more satisfied with your lives. It starts with contacting a mental health professional.
At FHE Health, our expert team can walk you through your first steps so you don’t have to make your infertility journey alone. Contact us 24/7 to find out more about how mental health support can help you along the way.