Infertility, Treatments, and Stress… OH MY!

Nattalie Roepke

Have you
or your partner had difficulties conceiving? If so, you are not alone.
According to, 10% of US women struggle with becoming pregnant
or carrying to term. Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization as
being unable to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected sex. Some
reproductive specialists believe that this is overgenerous. They believe that
after 6 months, couples 35 and older should begin the testing process for

If you or
someone you love has ever gone through this, you may understand how difficult
it is. 20% of couples who have been diagnosed with infertility, don’t know why.
Many others are left with frustrating diagnosis such as premature menopause,
low ovarian reserve, PCOS, low sperm count, or endometriosis. All of these
disorders are outside of individual control and difficult, if not impossible,
to treat medically leaving many couples with no other options except for
expensive, and perhaps financially prohibitive, treatments.

There are
many aspects about infertility that go unaddressed by medical practitioners.
Women and men who discover that they are incapable of having children without
medical support experience:

  • Shame
  • Isolation
  • Greif
    over the loss of this ability
  • Anger
    at their body or their partner’s body for not working
  • Confusion
  • Regret
  • Fertility
  • Disappointment
  • Jealousy
    for other’s who do not have difficulty conceiving
  • Feelings
    of loss of control over one’s body
  • Guilt
  • Low

While you
may see a reproductive endocrinologist, gynecologist, and/or urologist for your
physical concerns, many forget that mental health is equally important. Because
many individual’s experiencing fertility challenges may not feel comfortable
sharing them with friends or family, isolation and depression commonly occur.

What Can
You Do?

If you
have been involved in reproductive treatments for a while, you already know
that reproductive health has a vernacular all its own. Step into any online
chat community for infertility for the first time and the acronyms and drug
names will overwhelm you. Individual’s new to the process may feel completely
lost when speaking to doctors and may struggle to even know what to ask.

mental health counselors specialize in providing support to individuals who are
dealing with the stressors related to this process. As a patient of an
infertility clinic, you may dig into supplements and diets all geared to help
you produce the best quality eggs or sperm you can. While you are doing all
that you can to take care of your body, don’t forget to take care of your mind.

stress can alter your hormonal balance. In an article written in 2008 in
“Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience” researchers were able to tie stress
related hormones to worsened pregnancy outcomes when patients are undergoing
assisted reproductive techniques (ART). This seems to correlate with anecdotal
stories that seem to show that couples are more successful when they are less
stressed. Everyone has heard of a couple who tried for years. At some point
they stop trying and go on a vacation and come home pregnant. Although this
definitely does not work for most couples, lowering stress hormones can
increase the effectiveness of treatment.

Help Is

Contact a
mental health counselor who specializes in treatment of clients experiencing
fertility challenges. There are many interventional therapies which can help
you reduce stress and become more resilient when faced with the obstacles of


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