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When Infertility Leads to Anxiety

Sources of anxiety during infertility treatment and how to alleviate stress.

August 5, 2022 Jasmine D'Alessandro, RN, BSN

Many couples have spent years envisioning how many children they would like to have and dreaming of their ideal family life.  For most couples, they never consider that they might struggle with infertility.  Unfortunately, infertility is a very common disease and as with many disease diagnoses comes mental health struggles, such as anxiety and depression.  It has been suggested that patients that struggle with infertility suffer from the same extent of depression as patients with a cancer diagnosis.   

Sources of anxiety for the fertility patient 

For the fertility patient, anxiety can stem from many areas such as: 

  • The diagnosis itself 
  • Cost of treatment 
  • Social isolation  
  • Fear of failure 

The infertility diagnosis 

The diagnosis of infertility is often a tough pill to swallow for patients.  There are often feelings of anger, embarrassment, and fear for patients.  Patients tend to assume that their path may lead straight to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and injectable medications.  IVF is not always the path for everyone.  It is best to speak with a physician to develop a tailored treatment plan to help improve chances of success. 

Cost of treatment 

 Anxiety can also stem from the high cost of fertility treatments that at times may not be covered by health care insurance. If treatment is not covered by health care insurance this can lead to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for the patient. Unfortunately, studies have shown that the diagnosis of infertility and related anxiety from financial and other burdens can cause marital relationships to suffer.   

Social isolation 

It is not unusual for patients undergoing infertility treatment to avoid social and family gatherings.  Many attempt to avoid situations where they will be asked the dreaded question, “so when are you planning to have children”?  It can also be extremely difficult to hear about friends and family that are getting pregnant. Many patients feel alone in their situation. These situations can tend to have negative psychological effects.   

Fear of failure 

Patients that have undergone multiple failed treatment cycles often have an increase in anxiety and depression.  Failed treatment cycles can have numerous definitions, such as a negative pregnancy test, a canceled cycle due to poor ovarian response, or a failure of embryos to fertilize or progress.   

Miscarriage or stillbirth can also be a traumatic event that infertility patients can struggle with in their journey.  Following pregnancy loss, it is estimated that 20% of women experience symptoms of depression and anxiety  Patients often feel that they may have done something wrong to cause their treatment failure or pregnancy loss.  The pain of these traumatic events can lead to intense fear of repeat failures or loss.   

What can you do to help decrease anxiety? 

There are many things that people can do to support their mental health during their infertility journeys.   

  • Support groups: Many find it helpful to seek out infertility support groups.  Countless people have found these support groups to be a saving grace.   
  • Exercise or yoga: Exercise and/or yoga can have many psychological benefits.  Yoga can help reduce stress by promoting relaxation. 
  • Do your homework: Being informed provides the patient with a sense of control in their care.  This includes feeling comfortable with your physician and coming up with an agreed upon treatment plan.   

Couples may want to be proactive in their fertility treatments and seek out options that some would consider as outside of the box.  Such options include an assessment of autoimmune and immunologic factors that may be the root cause of recurrent implantation failure and recurrent pregnancy loss. Pregmune’s IRMA offers a full analysis of these potential immunologic causes.  The IRMA report can uncover underlying issues that may be responsible for fertility failures.  Discovering these underlying issues and following the recommendations of the IRMA report can assist in improving cycle outcomes and anxiety.   

We’re committed to helping people grow their families and helping doctors provide answers and support to their patients. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you think that means we can help you.

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About Pregmune: We’re an innovative reproductive health technology company, built on a solid foundation of data gained from decades of experience and thousands of successful pregnancies. Our team of fertility specialists and scientists are using artificial intelligence to decipher the complexity of the immune system and help patients grow the families of their dreams.

Our first product, IRMA, provides patients and their doctors with a personalized report and evidence-based treatment plan that addresses immunological sources of unexplained infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and recurrent implantation failure.