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National Infertility Awareness Week: The Connection Between Infertility and Mental Health

By HERWriter
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For many women, having children is a major goal in life. So it’s understandable that the inability to have children can be difficult for some women to cope with.

National Infertility Awareness Week, which runs from April 22 to 28, is all about increasing awareness of infertility and issues related to infertility.

Mental health issues can be linked to infertility, and experts share their information on this important connection.

According to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association website’s article by Alice Domar, “stress does not cause infertility,” but “infertility most definitely causes stress.” Women who are infertile are also more likely to suffer from depression due to their issues with conceiving.

Another part of the website does suggest that “emotional factors” are risk factors. The article states that “depression and stress may have a direct effect on the hormones that regulate reproduction and affect sperm production or ovulation.”

The Association’s website also explains that there can be many different feelings of loss associated with infertility, which is perfectly normal. A decrease in self-esteem can be a result of infertility, but it doesn’t have to be a new way of life.

The Association does have resources to help couples who are struggling with infertility. There are also different options that couples can try to possibly overcome infertility.

Other emotions associated with infertility for those who are trying to conceive are denial, shock, numbness, anger, guilt and shame, according to the Association’s website. The website also suggests that couples might suffer from feelings of grief, like “lack of energy,” “headaches,” irritability,” “insomnia,” “extreme sadness” and “inability to concentrate.”

Judith Horowitz, a licensed psychologist, said in an email that she thinks infertility does have a negative impact on mental health.

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I'm really glad you are sharing with Infertility patients that mental stress can result from Infertility. It is important for people to understand what they are feeling, why and understand what options are available to help. Awareness is critical!

I would like to add there is an importance for those without Infertility health insurance coverage to share this information and make others aware. This information can be extremely important for those attempting to gain access to treatment.

Mental health is seen as a significant percentage of insurance premiums. Infertility patients can utilize associated research to effectively communicate with their insurers, employers and legislators as they attempt to gain health care benefits for Infertility. We need to educate leaders of the cost savings associated with Infertility benefits including the fact there will likely be a reduction in the use of mental health benefits if individuals are able to afford treatment for the disease of Infertility. You can find the specific research (including research by Dr. Alice Domar) at http://www.fertilitywithinreach.org/resources/cost-savings/reduce-mental-health-claims/.

Thank you again!

March 26, 2012 - 11:06am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.