August 20th, 2017
Can the Mind contribute to Infertility?
Although the majority of infertility issues have a physiological cause, there are also psychological root causes for infertility. Some psychological factors of infertility may arise from anxiety, fears and depression, some may not be diagnosed, but exist at an unconscious level. At a closer examination, during psychotherapy sessions many infertile couples address the issue of their own ambivalence regarding having and raising a child.
The debate is on for decades to establish whether anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illnesses may be the direct cause of infertility, or these psychological factors are actually a result, as a coping mechanism, after the person has been labeled as “infertile”.
The psychological impact that infertility has on someone can be overwhelming. The prolonged exposure to intrusive infertility treatments, the effects on their mood and overall wellbeing is more than significant. At a time when the couple needs the most inner peace and stress free life, the experience of undergoing medical treatment of infertility can steer the couple into the direction of depression, sadness and despair.
The medical profession has a sharp focus and the ability to concentrate solely on the physical, on it's systems and physiology. It can measure and it can enhance the bodily processes. Most of the times this focus overlooks the mind of the patient.
As humans, we need to address the hearts and the souls of the people involved in the treatment, look for what they have "on their mind", because this can be key to the success of the fertility process."As humans, we need to address the hearts and the souls of the people involved in the treatment can be key to the success of the fertility process.
Many people who go through fertility treatments find these treatments completely de-humanising, because there is a gap that is not addressed: their psychological needs.
From a psychological point of view the person who has been given the “sentence” of infertility is the person who feels defective and incompetent; there is a loss of personal identity with each infertility diagnosis. Guilt, self-blame and isolation creep in, especially when these are accompanied with social stigma. Some may already enter the treatment with the idea of “not being enough” or “not being worthy” if they are not able to produce an offspring, naturally and effortlessly; this is culturally embedded in us: we are not women enough or not men enough if we are not reproducing.
Guilt and shame is a common eruption while a patients’ self-esteem gets another hit when the infertility procedures/drugs did not work for them.
Psychotherapeutic interventions can help at each stage of infertility and beyond:
Andreea Madaras, Psychotherapist
InsideOut Wellness Centre
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