Exploring Links Between Depression and Infertility

A recent article about the relationship between depression and infertility has encouraged me to explore the subject for this blog. According to the writer, “people who experience depression are more likely to have fertility problems.” So, it’s not surprising that once pregnancy is achieved, the depression might continue during pregnancy and after pregnancy (postpartum depression).

Let’s first look at infertility. Who wouldn’t feel sad if you’re trying to conceive and treatments fail, or when an invitation to a baby shower arrives in the mail? Imagine your own blue mood if a close friend or relative announces a fourth pregnancy.

In addition to those experiences, infertility can impact a couple’s sex life, and a woman’s sense of self-worth. She may feel like a failure, as well as that her life is no longer her own, but instead is governed by doctor appointments and disappointments.

And although no one knows whether depression itself can cause infertility, some studies suggest that hormonal imbalance is a culprit in both conditions.

Along with all of these factors, being depressed can cause someone to adopt lifestyle habits that can negatively impact fertility, like overeating or lack of appetite. Smoking or drinking — which people often turn to when depressed — can also lower fertility.

While we might expect that a positive outcome after fertility treatments would lift depression, unfortunately this isn’t always true. In fact, those who have experienced infertility before conceiving are at an increased risk for postpartum depression.

So, after reading all of this, your question may remain: What comes first? Does depression cause infertility, or does infertility lead to depression? It certainly is difficult to have unrealized goals (pregnancy and parenthood) and the realization that we are often unable to control our destiny (infertility).

Add into this mix, hormones — often prescribed by fertility doctors — which can add to distress. Many women are given Lupron, a drug that could initiate menopause. To counter this, patients are then treated with high doses of hormones. This roller coaster ride can often destabilize mood and mental health.

As you can see it’s a complicated issue. The one thing for certain is that
Infertility patients who have depression can often be treated successfully with therapy alone or sometimes in combination with medication. This combination can often increase pregnancy success, as well as decrease risk of perinatal depression.

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~ by ppdsus on November 17, 2014.

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