Missed conceptions: why mental health is vital in treating infertility
With depression comes a greater risk for infertility, bolstering the case for psychological support
The desire to have children is age-old but, according to a UN report of fertility, for the one in five SA couples who struggle with infertility, getting pregnant is a double-edged sword. While infertility has a negative effect on mental wellbeing, its root causes can also lie in mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Women with a history of depression are at greater risk for infertility, while a study in the International Journal of Urology found that depression and some anti-depressant medications can negatively affect male fertility (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/iju.14111). At the same time, a struggle with infertility is deeply stressful and can cause feelings of grief and isolation through to full-blown anxiety disorders and depression, as well as conflict in relationships and families.
“This makes psychological support a vital part of the ‘infertility journey’, both before starting and during infertility treatment, because good mental health can have a positive impact on the success of fertility treatment,” says Prof Renata Schoeman, psychiatrist and member of the South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP)...