Psychological interactions with infertility among women Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Despite the fact that various studies have demonstrated the importance of the mind-body connection and fertility, the psychosocial aspects of infertility have not been adequately addressed. Fertility treatments, ranging from medical monitoring, to hormonal remedies and in vitro fertilization (IVF), are both a physical and emotional burden on women and their partners. Psychological factors such as depression, state-anxiety, and stress-induced changes in heart rate and cortisol are predictive of a decreased probability of achieving a viable pregnancy. A couple that is trying to conceive will undoubtedly experience feelings of frustration and disappointment if a pregnancy is not easily achieved. However, if the difficulties progress and the man and or woman are labelled as having fertility problems, then this may result in a severe insult to self-esteem, body image, and self-assessed masculinity or femininity. Three types of relationships have been hypothesized between psychological factors and infertility. These include: (1) psychological factors are risk factors of subsequent infertility; (2) the experience of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility causes subsequent psychological distress; (3) a reciprocal relationship exists between psychological factors and infertility. The evidence for these three relationships is reviewed and an alternative approach to the treatment of infertility including stress evaluation that precedes or is concurrent to fertility treatment is suggested.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005