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Mental health & IVF

Research from the Kings Find, the independent health think tank in the UK has suggested that around 30% of those individuals with a long term health condition also have a mental health condition, the most common of which are depression and anxiety.

Infertility is one such disease which blurs the distinction between physical and mental health. It is possibly one of the most emotionally challenging and charged experiences that a person will face in their lifetime. It knows no boundaries and has no respect for ethnicity, or socio-background. With one in six couples facing infertility, the number of people affected by the ‘double whammy’ of a disease capable of impacting both physically and mentally is potentially very large.


IVF treatment and mental health

Infertility is not a new disease, it has been around since the dawn of time but its most effective foe, IVF treatment, has only really able to make a tangible difference for just over forty years. That difference has been enormous however with over 8 million IVF babies being born since 1978.

Offering patients a chance of success has undoubtedly had an impact on people’s mental health. Success rates continue to grow and diverse treatments (and liberal legislation) mean that more people can now access IVF whatever their relationship status. Although access doesn’t automatically wipe out the emotional toil of infertility it does help.


Males feel it too

Infertility is not gender related. It affects men just as much as women and impacts on their mental health, self esteem, and ability to maintain relationships. Andrew Coutts, a PhD researcher working on the male experience of infertility suggests the emotional needs of male fertility patients have been somewhat side lined compared to the needs of female patients but this is beginning to change. Andrew said,

Men are increasingly becoming more vocal about their specific needs as fertility patients. Scientific and medical advancements mean that there are more treatments available to men and in turn, they feel more involved in the treatment process. More and more men are now prepared to share and discuss their experiences with other men. This can be seen in recent years with the huge increase in male related support groups, literature and third party agencies providing support.”


It’s good to talk   

Despite the advances in assisted reproduction including access and treatments there is still a certain amount of stigma that continues to be attached to infertility, whether that be blatant or subtle, although it appears to be reducing. For decades couples felt like they had to stand silently in the shadows, but this is changing.

We have witnessed a huge uptick in the number of platforms in which individuals and couples can share their experiences, seek advice and gain information. The digital revolution undoubtedly made this possible and has facilitated communication and discussion on a global scale.

Forums, websites, blogs, vlogs and Lives have made it easier to access information about infertility and enabled us to talk and listen more. Whether you do it in an open forum or private message, its good to talk and our mental health has definitely benefitted.


Mental health and infertility: A very real problem

We began this discussion quoting the Kings Fund in the UK whose research indicated that one in three people who had a long-term health condition also had a mental health condition. That is potentially a very hight number that have to face both physical and emotional challenges, but independent research carried out by the charity, Fertility Network UK and Middlesex University suggests this figure is even higher when considers infertility. The research showed that 90% of people facing long-term infertility said they had experienced depression, with 42% even claiming that they had felt suicidal.

Unfortunately, these feelings may not disappear in time or even if that much desired pregnancy happens. Mental health issues associated with infertility can be deep rooted and last a lifetime, and each patient should be offered personalised support for as long as it is needed.


A professional approach

Our relationship with treatment providers has evolved in recent decades. The traditional doctor/patient roles have been replaced with a team approach to care. Visit a fertility clinic today and you will very likely be offered this personalised support delivered by a team of experts who will be able to address your specific emotional and psychological needs.

At Clínica Tambre, your mental health is just as important as your physical health and we recognise how each impacts on each other. We offer emotional support at every stage of your journey with us and each staff member receives training to ensure they are able to provide an appropriate level of care and support whenever you need it. We offer a dedicated psychological support service which offers advice and information on matters such as anxiety and depression and view this as an important and necessary part of your fertility treatment.

You can find out how we support you via this link.