Coming to Terms with the Mental Side Effects of Infertility

When considering infertility, struggles with conception are often thought of as being strictly physical

However, many forget to contemplate the mental health side effects which often go hand-in-hand with pregnancy-related conditions. 

As someone undergoes the twists and turns of fertility treatments, handling their mental health by contacting a professional is as crucial as taking medication and attending doctor’s appointments.

But why, and how?

Whether someone is going through IUI or using an egg donor from an organisation like Donor Egg Bank USA, the stress of the experience can be physically and mentally exhausting.

How do you make time for mental health amidst an already chaotic journey? Why is it so important that you do? Mental health and infertility have a greater connection than some might think – it’s essential to understand how they go together. 

Are Mental Health Troubles a Cause or Effect of Infertility?

The relationship between mental health and fertility can quickly become a “chicken or the egg” situation.

Do prospective parents become depressed and anxious because of the challenges they face trying to get pregnant? Or, does their infertility stem from increased stress levels and depressive symptoms in their day-to-day lives?

While not the answer many might hope for, the correct response is both. 

Depression and Anxiety Caused by Infertility Treatment

Various studies prove the appearance of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety are more prevalent in people undergoing infertility solutions. 

In fact, it’s estimated there’s up to a 54% increase in the likelihood of experiencing depression while undergoing fertility treatments. Likewise, anxiety presents itself 8-24% more often in infertile couples or individuals. 

There’s much to endure and overcome throughout the infertility treatment process. Things like medical bills, time off work, side effects from medication, and travel to and from doctors’ appointments are just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s not surprising this symbolic balancing act can easily lead to higher rates of anxiety and depression.

Are You Infertile Because of Mental Health Issues?

Something many might find surprising is that stress can contribute to infertility in the first place. When we become stressed, our bodies produce an enzyme known as alpha-amylase. Research shows the higher these levels are, the less likely a person is to conceive. 

One study shows a 12% decrease in conception each ovulation cycle in people with alpha-amylase levels.  

Practicing Natural Stress Management Techniques

Sometimes it’s easy to let mental health troubles fall to the wayside – especially when something important like fertility treatment is at the forefront of your mind. Despite this, it’s crucial to seek solutions before problems get too severe and begin affecting chances of success.

As a first step, many people like to try and minimise stress levels naturally. Luckily, there are several great ways to enhance stress management routines. Some of the most effective options include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Meditation and/or yoga
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Less caffeine
  • Taking up a hobby
  • Date nights
  • Spending time with friends and family

Should You Seek Psychological Help During Fertility Treatments?

Implementing better stress management routines is always a great first step in decreasing stress levels and dealing with the hardships of fertility-related mental health struggles.

Sometimes, though, natural techniques aren’t enough.

If you’re still struggling with depression and anxiety, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. You should first make an appointment with your fertility specialist or primary care physician to begin the treatment process. From there, your doctor might suggest counselling or prescribe medication to assist with your condition.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help During Your Infertility Journey

When you already have so much happening during your quest to have a baby, finding time for mental health is no simple task.

However, it’s an essential part of taking care of oneself.

Don’t let conditions like stress, anxiety, and depression consume your fertility experience. Finding time to overcome these situations is crucial to the outcome of your treatment process. Whether you take a simple stress management approach or seek help from a professional, being proactive about your fertility-related mental health struggle is a priority. 

Thankfully, we live in a world with ample opportunities to overcome these challenges. 

Author Profile

Simon Costanza
Features Editor


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