Every day, women across the globe grapple with the heartbreaking reality of infertility. In fact, an estimated 6.1 million women in America experience infertility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infertility refers to the inability to conceive or take a baby to term after one year of trying (or 6 months for women 35 or older).
While it’s a relatively common issue many women face, the topic of infertility is rarely spoken about. Why? For one, infertility is incredibly difficult to cope with and can have an immense impact on women’s mental health.
Research published by the North Carolina Medical Journal shares the following:
“The most common mental health concerns reported by fertility patients are symptoms of anxiety and depression. The more physically and emotionally demanding and intrusive patients’ medical treatments become, the higher the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression. Each passing monthly cycle brings a roller coaster ride of emotions such as anger, betrayal, guilt, sadness, and even hope. With each friend who announces her pregnancy and with every pregnant woman she passes in the grocery store, the patient’s anxiety and stress can become overwhelming.”
Conversations around infertility often focus on the physical aspects of conceiving. In this post, however, we’ll discuss how infertility can affect mental health and ways in which women’s health psychiatrists can help you deal with the emotional turmoil that arises.
What Causes Infertility?
In a majority of cases, infertility is a product of ovulation-related problems. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder and one of the most common conditions that can negatively affect ovulation.
Caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, Polycystic ovarian syndrome refers to the production of an abnormal amount of androgens, causing the ovaries to fail to regularly release or develop eggs. Other conditions that can cause infertility include:
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Block fallopian tubes
- Uterus deformities or abnormalities
Age is another primary reason approximately one-third of women over the age of 35 experience fertility issues. Poor nutrition, alcohol and tobacco use and weight-related problems are other factors that can lead to increased infertility risk.
How Infertility Impacts Women’s Mental Health
Infertility and not being able to have children can be very traumatic for both women and men. Many women envision and plan to create a family of their own, and infertility can completely throw their life into disarray.
In a similar vein, societal pressure is a very real and very powerful reality – and the inability to conceive can produce strong feelings of guilt. Infertility can cause a level of sorrow that, in many ways, is as distressing as the grief experienced after the loss of a loved one.
According to NCBI, “Despite the prevalence of infertility, the majority of infertile women do not share their story with family or friends, thus increasing their psychological vulnerability. The inability to reproduce naturally can cause feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. These negative feelings may lead to varying degrees of depression, anxiety, distress, and a poor quality of life.”
It can truly be an emotional roller coaster for women and their partners. Each month, they experience the pressure of trying to conceive and must anxiously wait weeks before they are able to find out if they’re pregnant. Those who discover the painful reality that they’re not pregnant must repeat the cycle over and over again – circling through periods of feeling hopeful, followed by anxiety and depression with each negative test result.
Women’s health psychiatrists help cope with all the areas of someone’s life that can be affected by Infertility. From sexual dysfunction and financial worries to relationship challenges and spiritual issues.
How Women’s Health Psychiatrists Can Help
Coping with infertility is extremely difficult, but it’s not a battle you have to face alone. Talking to a women’s health psychiatrist and surrounding yourself with a strong support system is pivotal for protecting your mental well-being.
The licensed, experienced professionals at Hudson Psychiatric Associates can help you overcome the negative and hurdles surrounding infertility while ensuring you find hope for the future. To learn more about our services, contact us today.