In a nutshell
This article reviewed the association between mental health and infertility in women, including depression and anxiety.
Infertility can affect as many as 12% of couples trying to conceive. This can lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Often, patients do not share their struggles with friends and family, which may further increase stress. However, whether stress causes infertility is unclear.
Methods & findings
Patients experiencing infertility report depression or anxiety more often than individuals who do not have fertility complications. Overall, 25% to 60% of women experiencing infertility report having depression or anxiety symptoms.
Miscarriage (the loss of pregnancy before a birth) occurs in 10 to 25% of all pregnancies. It has been shown that miscarriage significantly increases patients’ levels of depression and anxiety.
Patients receiving treatment for infertility for a long time may also have increased stress levels. This is particularly true for cases where the cause of infertility is not known. Lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, and sleep are highly recommended for these patients. These changes may also help improve mental health.
Studies that examined the effects of stress on pregnancy rates have mixed results. Some studies showed that stress reduced pregnancy rates, while others did not. Most studies assessed stress levels using patient questionnaires.
Several studies have examined the effect of prescribing treatment for mental health problems to patients with infertility. Most of these studies showed that counseling and mindfulness practices improved anxiety and depression in patients. Some studies suggest that this can increase pregnancy rates.
The Mind/Body Program for Infertility is a program designed to reduce depression and anxiety in patients with infertility. The main goal of the program is to educate patients in cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation techniques, lifestyle changes, journaling, self-awareness, and social supports. The program has helped reduce stress and increase pregnancy rates.
The bottom line
The authors concluded while studies are mostly inconclusive, treatment for mental health may benefit patients with infertility.
The fine print
The studies reviewed here were designed in different ways. This limits the comparisons that might be made between the studies.
Published By :
Dialogues in clinical neuroscience
Mar 01, 2018