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The Emotional Impact of Infertility and How to Deal with It

infertility emotional impact
Infertility is referred to as a biomedical condition; however, the emotional impact of infertility can be just as damaging. Facing infertility can be detrimental to one’s mental health as emotions affect the physical well-being. The mind can control the body’s reaction to medical treatments.

According to the Massachusetts General Hospital for Women’s Mental Health, studies have shown emotional distress affects the success rate of infertility treatment. These studies focused on the connection between the mental health of patients receiving treatment and the outcome of low pregnancy rates.

Here’s how infertility can affect both men and women, and how you can overcome the emotional impact of infertility.

Emotional Impact of Infertility on Women

For a woman that has yearned for a baby for years, coming to terms with infertility problems can be devastating. The pressure one puts on oneself is bad enough but imagine the constant questioning by family and friends about when they are going to start a family.

Over the years, a woman is inundated by expectations of motherhood through family members, films, media, and even self-talk. Not being able to conceive or having a partner with an infertility diagnosis can stir feelings of failure or inadequacy.

How Infertility Affects Men

Just as a woman can be deeply affected by infertility, the male partner can experience similar mental anguish. Studies show depression, low self-esteem, and sexual dysfunction are common among men dealing with infertility.

Some men may not express their feelings to their own partner, let alone their friends. Many have been raised to supress their feelings, so experiencing such deep emotions may cause confusion, anger, and frustration. With males, they may yearn to be a father but are not socially pressured as women are with constant questioning by their peers. It can be more of a personal feeling of disappointment than embarrassment.

Emotional Impact of Infertility on Relationships

It’s hard to know how to describe the emotional suffering couples face during fertility challenges. Couples have to try to come to terms with their own issues while seeing their friends and colleagues beginning their future with pregnancies. Life continues for the world while one’s world seems to crumble.

As with any obstacle within a relationship, fertility problems can either make or break a couple. The grief and unknown of an infertility issue may cause a couple to turn to each other for support or cause marital distress.

How to Deal with Fertility-Related Emotional Problems

Emotional problems related to infertility begin to stir inside, however, outer stresses can soon add to the emotional strain. Friends and family may mean well but the little jabs of “you’re not pregnant yet” and “better hurry up, clock is ticking” can cut you like a knife. Financial strains weigh heavy, especially with the excessive costs of most fertility treatments.

It’s at this time it is important to sort through the emotions and address the underlying issues. Some of the emotions may require professional help and one-on-one sessions. Couples also need to work through the feelings together to ensure the relationship continues to grow.

Infertility Depression

One of the common, but serious, issues with infertility is depression. As with any life-altering situation, depression is a process not to be ignored. Knowing the signs are half the battle. Be on the lookout for difficulty concentrating, change in appetite, irregular sleep patterns, social isolation, and constant feelings of guilt, anger, or increased anxiety. Some folks may even have feelings of self-harm or suicide.

Financial Strain

Treatments for fertility issues can cause severe financial strain. Many treatments can take months and in some cases years to help. Depending on the length of therapy, fertility assessments and treatments can cost thousands of dollars. The strain on a couple’s relationship can be tenfold when money is added to the mix.

Identify the Feelings

Fertility concerns and treatments can bring a lot of emotions to the surface. Some of the feelings and emotions can feed on each other, causing mental and physical turmoil. It is important to identify all feelings to know how to address them. Keep in mind, not everyone will experience all of the following emotions, but it is crucial to recognize them and to develop tools to work through the feelings.

Look for feelings of guilt, loss, rejection, grief, failure, and shame. Anger, loss of self-esteem, and feelings of being judged may also develop. Once it becomes clear what emotions exist, consider what may be causing these strong feelings and if any are cast towards anyone.

Be Open and Seek Support

There comes a time to reach out for support further than close friends and family. With all of the decisions faced on the course of treatment, accepting alternative options, and trying to agree on a solution, mental health guidance may help.

Get Professional Help with Fertility Counselling

Counselling is a fundamental part of any treatment and fertility care is no different. Couples facing the hardships of fertility issues go through a range of emotions. Sadness, grief, anger, guilt, and frustration are just a sample of the mental anguish men and women deal with for weeks, months, and sometimes years.

Infertility counselling professionals can listen, advise, and guide couples through their hurt and confusion. The turmoil can also extend from physical changes to the body from hormone therapy and effects from invasive testing.

ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo’s Fertility Counselling Services

ONE Fertility Kitchener Waterloo offers compassionate care to those dealing with fertility issues, both women and men. Our goal is to give hope, personal support, and medical care to help you through every step of your desire to have a family. Life through knowledge is our objective with our patients at our fertility clinic. We also offer infertility counselling in Kitchener Waterloo. Whatever point you are in this journey, contact us at 519-650-0011 or at


4271 King St East, Suite 200
Kitchener, ON
N2P 2X7

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Phone: 519.650.0011
Fax: 519.650.0033