Mental Health and Infertility
Besides all of the high-tech improvements the field of reproductive medicine has made throughout the decades, there is another part of infertility that has not made as many strides, and yet is equally important: emotional health. However, more and more centers are hiring and utilizing psychologists, acupuncturists, and other complimentary practitioners who specialize in infertility, with some even starting support groups or holding programs and stress-reduction workshops.
As something that has been more hidden in the past, for a number of reasons, now infertility and sub-fertility are being talked about more, and people are realizing this is a common health issue. There’s more awareness and there is an increase in people who are actually going in to get help now, whether it’s with their GP, OBGYN or an RE (fertility doctor).
Women especially feel the brunt of the stress with this challenge, and often experience anxiety, depression, insomnia and strains in their personal relationships, whether with a partner, or with friends and family, especially when it seems like “everyone around [them] is getting pregnant”.
Studies from universities such as Harvard Medical School are finding that patients struggling with infertility have levels of distress “equal to patients with cancer or heart disease.” Moreover, this effects people’s lives overall, sometimes financially, and also when it comes to planning things, like trips or career-moves. The numerous appointments and medications (which can cause mood swings, especially in women with a history of depression or a major depressive event), all of this can make patients feeling frustrated and can lead patients to be consumed with the status of their eggs.
Fertility can not only be disruptive and stressful, but it can feel like a crisis, and many couples who have repeated failed procedures go through a mourning process each month, experiencing chronic grief, and feeling like they are missing out on an essential life experience. And with success rates nationally being about 20-30%, evidence based medicine should not be the only tool in the tool basket. When women are doing something to greatly increase their ability to conceive and it fails, there needs to be support and help to not only manage this devastating experience, but to treat the whole person so that they can become as healthy as possible, and actually increase their chances of it working in the future, either naturally or with assisted technologies.
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