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  • Maternal Mental Health Infertility (IUI/IVF) Therapy

    Impact of Infertility & Mental Health

    A woman’s mental health and physical well-being are profoundly impacted by experiencing challenging and difficult infertility issues, causing anxiety, depression, and distress. While you see your family and friends becoming pregnant, while you are experiencing infertility issues, this may leave you feeling alone, sad, isolated, and even inadequate. What makes it even more distressing and problematic is when persons keep asking you when you will have children and why you have not had kids yet, not knowing the extreme sensitivity of the nature of that question.

    According to the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health, women and couples experiencing infertility issues demonstrate significant mental health issues. Among infertile couples, anxiety and distress are between 8%-28%, and depression among infertile couples is often significantly higher between 15%-54%. Couples experience challenges in their relationship as they experience the pressure and stress of adhering to infertility treatment protocols and the financial expenses of obtaining fertility medical treatments.

    Symptoms

    ·      Grief and loss

    ·      Depression

    ·      Anxiety

    ·      Hopeless

    ·      Discourages

    ·      Isolated

    ·      Sadness

    ·      Unworthy

    The American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports that the definition for Infertility for women 35 years old or younger means not getting pregnant after one year of unprotected intercourse. Infertility issues for a woman 35-40 years old consist of not being able to conceive after six months of unprotected intercourse. Moreover, a woman who is 40+ and older experiences infertility when she finds it impossible to conceive after three months of unprotected sexual intercourse. Additionally, women can get pregnant and cannot maintain and complete the pregnancy suffering recurrent pregnancy loss.

    Infertility Problems With These Steps

    Ovulation: A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries.

    The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus.

    A man’s sperm needs to fertilize the egg along the path.

    Implantation: The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus.

    Is Infertility a Common Problem?

    Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 % of women (6.1 million) between 15-44 years old living in the United States have problems getting pregnant or staying pregnant.

    Is Infertility Only a Woman’s Problem?

    No. Infertility problems are caused equally by both women and men. Women’s problems cause about one-third (30%) of infertility cases, and another one-third (30%) are caused by infertility problems with men. A combination of male and female problems or unknown problems contribute to the remaining 40% of couples’ infertility issues.

    Causes of Infertility in Women

    Age

    Cancer

    Smoking

    Uterine fibroids

    Environmental chemicals

    Hormone and metabolic problems

    Physical problems with the uterus

    Blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, or endometriosis

    Blocked fallopian tubes due to surgery for an ectopic pregnancy

    Problems with ovulation may cause most cases of female Infertility.

    Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized.

    Possible signs that a woman is not ovulating normally may include irregular or absent menstrual periods.

    Ovulation problems may be caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance problem that may interfere with regular ovulation.

    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of female Infertility.

    Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) may be a cause of ovulation problems.

    Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI) occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working before she is 40 years old.

    Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) 

    IUI Infertility treatment is often referred to as artificial insemination. In this procedure, the woman is injected with specially prepared sperm and perhaps medicines that stimulate ovulation before the treatment. This procedure may be applied when the couple has mild male Infertility, cervical mucus problems, and unexplained Infertility.

    Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) 

    ART is a combination of different methods utilized to assist infertile couples in getting pregnant. ART consist of removing eggs from a woman’s body. The eggs are then mixed with sperm to make embryos. These embryos are inserted back into the woman’s body.

    How Can Psychotherapy Help?

    Therapists can provide a compassionate, inclusive, supportive, and safe space with no blame or judgment for individuals and couples to process grief and loss, provide effective communication, positive adaptive coping skills, meditation and mindfulness relaxation techniques, and the identification of couples’ disconnection in the pursuer-distancer dynamic,

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness can assist with infertility mental health issues provide a therapeutic approach to infertility counseling. There is hope in traversing the process of having a baby – whether through IUI/IVF, fertility treatments, choosing a surrogate, or adopting a baby. Therapy can provide guidance and support in navigating the various challenges and decisions surrounding the infertility journey.

    If You Are Experiencing a Crisis or Suicidal Thoughts

     If you are having thoughts of harming yourself:

    ·     Immediately call 911 or the local

    hospital emergency room

    ·    Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    at 1-800-273-TALK

    ·     (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, 7

    days a week

    ·    Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat.

    ·    Contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a

    day, 7 days a week

    ·    Text HELLO to 741741.

    ·     Seek help from your primary care physician

    ·     Call a mental health professional

    ·     Reach out to your partner, close friend, or family.

    ·     Contact a spiritual leader in your faith community.

     

     

    References

    American Society for Reproductive Medicine Fact Sheet: Sexual dysfunction and Infertility. Birmingham, AL: American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2015). http://www.reproductivefacts.org/uploadedFiles/ASRM_Content/Resources/Patient_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Info_Booklets/Sexual_Dysfunction-Fact.pdf.

    Covington SN, ed. (2015). Fertility Counseling: Clinical Guide and Case Studies. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

    Ezzell, W. (2016). North Carolina Medical Journal November, 77 (6) 427-428; DOI: https://doi.org/10.18043/ncm.77.6.427

    Resolve Optimizing Fertility. Resolve website. www.resolve.org.

    The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Medical reviews by the following:

    Esther Eisenberg, M.D., M.P.H., Reproductive Sciences Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

    Kelly Brumbaugh, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Renee Brown-Bryant, M.S., Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Lee Warner, Ph.D., Division of Reproductive Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.