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Infertility – Psychological & Social Wellbeing

The causes of infertility are mainly physiological, but coming to terms with the diagnosis and undergoing the treatment can take a toll on a couple’s emotional and mental state.

For many couples, infertility can be an upsetting experience – studies show that the stress of being unable to bear a child is associated with emotions like anger, depression, anxiety, marital problems and social isolation.

Below are some coping strategies for couple facing infertility:

  • Becoming informed – The diagnosis of infertility is hard for any couple to come to terms with. However, it is best to start looking at the various treatment options available before it adversely affects the emotional and psychological well being of the couple. Being informed enables people to actively make decisions about tests and treatments that might work best for them. It also gives a feeling of being in control of the situation rather than becoming overwhelmed by it.
  • Sharing feelings as a couple – Each partner may be affected by the diagnosis differently and it is important to communicate one’s feelings to one another to provide the much needed support post diagnosis and during treatment.
  • Counselling – Visiting a counsellor experienced in dealing with infertility cases can help couples deal with conflict and emotional upheavals they might be facing. Couples may find it soothing to discuss their feelings about infertility and share their concerns and fears regarding their treatment options. Counselling is also useful to deal with relationship issues that may arise post diagnosis.
  • Psychotherapy Those who are affected by long-term changes in sleep pattern or moods can visit a mental health professional to tackle the signs of anxiety and depression.
  • Relaxation techniques – Various relaxation methods like meditation, deep breathing, yoga and guided imagery can prove useful in dealing with the stress and anxiety that an infertility diagnosis and its treatment may cause.
  • Medication – Severe symptoms of anxiety or depression may require anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. However, women undergoing assisted reproductive therapy must consult with their doctor over the use of these medicines in view of their effect on a future foetus.
  • Support groups – Participating in a support group can help a couple connect with other people facing similar issues or hear them share their success stories. This reduces the feeling of isolation. Further, support groups can be a good place to gather information about the problem and find strategies for coping with problems associated with infertility.
  • Accepting infertility – Lastly, infertility treatment can be a long process that could prove emotionally and financially draining. There are various medically advanced techniques available, but it is a couple’s decision on how many types of treatments to attempt, number of attempts and the length of time they are willing to commit towards having a child. Though it may be a difficult choice to make, but a couple might want to start looking at options like adoption of living a child-free life, when it feels right.

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Sources:

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Emotional aspects of infertility fact sheet,” Women’s Health Queensland Wide Inc., https://www.womhealth.org.au/conditions-and-treatments/207-emotional-aspects-of-infertility

“Fertility and Mental Health,” Center for Women’s Mental Health at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard medical School, https://womensmentalhealth.org/specialty-clinics/infertility-and-mental-health/