The Psychological Impact of Infertility

Karen Veintimilla, LMHC May 22, 2023

Infertility is so much more than a medical condition.

With the arrival of spring, people get to say goodbye to winter and welcome the blossoming flowers of spring and the prospects of new life. However, for 17.5 percent of the world's population (according to the World Health Organization), infertility can dampen the hope of starting a family. In this blog post, we will discuss what infertility is, its causes, and how it affects mental health. We will also suggest some ways to address the psychological impacts of infertility. We hope that these suggestions will help you feel supported and empowered during what is undoubtedly a difficult time.

Understanding infertility 

Infertility is a medical condition that occurs when a person fails to achieve pregnancy within one year of trying. This can be due to various factors, such as age (particularly for females over 35 years), issues with sperm for males, women who can conceive but are unable to carry a pregnancy to term, and women who are unable to get pregnant. But infertility isn’t just medical. Did you know it can have profound impacts on your mental health? 

If you are reading this blog post, you may already know the answer. 

Infertility and mental health

Women experiencing infertility can experience low self-worth, feel like a failure, and suffer from anxiety and/or depression. These feelings can also lead to sexual dysfunction, social isolation, and impact their marriage. Infertility can also affect both partners’ mental well-being.

Parenthood is an important life transition, and for those who are struggling with infertility, it can add to the challenge of experiencing stigma, loss, and lowered self-esteem. People who have struggled with infertility can feel incomplete or like they have failed to participate in this important time. Women may also feel that there is something "wrong" with them, which can lead to increased depression and low self-worth. These feelings can also impact partners and families, leading to social isolation and negative feelings towards friends and family who are pregnant.

How to address the psychological impacts of infertility

There are ways to improve your mental health when dealing with infertility, including:

  • CBT groups, individual therapy, and support groups can help decrease stress, form a community, and provide peers to help one through this challenging time. 
  • Couples counseling that focuses on the stress of treatments and infertility may also decrease social isolation and the stigma that continues to surround this hardship. 

Infertility can be a difficult experience for the mind, body, and soul. But be gentle to yourself and your spouse. Remember that infertility is a medical condition and seeking help is a sign of strength. With support and hope, it is possible to navigate this difficult time.

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