The Mental Health Effects of Infertility

The Mental Health Effects of Infertility

It seems obvious that infertility will affect one’s mental state. We live in a culture that casually expects every couple to have kids eventually. Therefore, complete strangers or family might comment with something like, “What a great mother you’re going to be!” 

To add this kind of incidental triggering, there’s the reality that very few people talk openly about their fertility. The unspoken taboo on this topic can leave anyone struggling with infertility to feel alone and ashamed.

Finally, couples that opt for fertility treatments often run the gauntlet of unsolicited advice and inquiry. So, on multiple levels, the mental side effects of infertility must be addressed. 

The Emotional Journey of Infertility (and Infertility Treatment) 

Before your focus shifts from pregnancy to fertility, you will probably feel so much excitement and anticipation in the earliest days of this journey. This is important to note because you’re not starting from a neutral point. The struggle to conceive tends to appear just when you allow yourself to let loose and embrace hope about being a parent. Honour this dynamic, but do all you can not to surrender to it.

You and your partner might experience guilt, anger, shame, confusion, uncertainty, and worries about health — all of this before fertility treatments enter the picture. Adding to the mental burden will be financial concerns, feeling like you’re letting someone else down, and perhaps losing faith in your spiritual beliefs. 

All of the above has been shown to increase the risk of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, mood swings, stress, and relationship-related strife. 

How Does Infertility Also Impact Your Relationship?

A scenario like this can foster insecurity and blame between even the closest partners. The partner who is infertile can feel they’ve ruined everything. They begin to wonder if this means the end of the relationship. Over time, this inner turmoil can morph into a competition of sorts. Which partner is suffering the most? Who deserves the most sympathy? 

Even though you both recognize how counterproductive such behavior is, emotions can lead to mistakes. It can also lead to the temporary stagnation of your sex life. What was once spontaneous may now have to conform to a doctor’s suggested schedule. Sex as pleasure can feel like it’s been replaced with something clinical. The longer this continues, the more distant you can feel from each other.

Then comes some potentially crucial moments. If conception is just not yet happening, you and your partner have some huge decisions to make, e.g.:

  • Is it time to take a break?
  • Do we need more help?
  • How many people can we trust to talk about the situation?
  • Do we set some kind of deadline and then perhaps look into fostering or adoption?

Under the best of circumstances, questions like this are a massive challenge. If both of you are feeling mentally fatigued and distressed, the stakes can feel even higher. You don’t have to handle all of this alone.

Therapy Remains as a Powerful Option

Infertility can take a heavy toll on everyone involved. Ignoring mental health symptoms is never a good idea. In this instance, it will also run the risk of intensifying the issue by making the fertility struggles even more pervasive. Our bodies cannot function well under stress, so it’s a self-loving choice to improve your mental well-being as a giant step toward the physical outcomes you seek.

In a therapy setting, you can feel safe bearing your emotions. You’re in a difficult situation, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr. Doing the work to safeguard your mental health is always a wise decision.

At Onyx, we have a team of caring and experienced therapists who are here to support you and your mental wellness. Reach out and lean on this extended village of support.

The Mental Health Effects of Infertility