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Infertility takes a toll on men’s and women’s mental health: Experts suggest coping strategies health news

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Infertility affects millions of people around the world. According to the World Health Organization, infertility is defined as “a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by failure to conceive after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse.” The WHO said estimates show that one in six people of reproductive age worldwide will experience infertility in their lifetime. Apart from the physical aspect, infertility can seriously affect a person’s mental health.

Dr Anindita Singh, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility, Kolkata, says, “Fertility – the ability to conceive and reproduce – is an important aspect. However, its impact extends beyond the physical space and affects a person’s mental and emotional well-being. Although discussions of fertility often focus on the biological aspects. As such, it is essential to recognize its relationship to mental health, which affects both men and women. Understanding these dynamics is critical to developing a holistic approach to reproductive health and mental well-being.”

The psychological toll of fertility challenges

Dr Anindita Singh says the journey to infertility and its treatments is extremely challenging and can affect many aspects of life such as career, family dynamics and interpersonal relationships. Dr. Singh lists the following points:

Depression and anxiety

According to recent studies, there is a correlation between infertility and high levels of anxiety and depression. Dr. Singh says 40% of women experiencing fertility difficulties show symptoms of depression or anxiety. Additionally, women report greater psychological distress than men.

Loss and sorrow

For many, this can trigger a deep sense of loss. Grieving the unfulfilled dreams of a family, losing control over one’s body, and missing milestones can lead to intense sadness, anger, and even guilt. Additionally, it can be more challenging due to social expectations and the constant reminders of fertility that surround them.

Effects on relationships

Fertility stress can put significant strain on relationships. Communication breakdowns, intimacy issues and different coping styles can create distance and conflict between partners. Open communication, empathy and seeking professional help can be crucial.

Also Read: Infertility: Debunking Myths About Diet and Diet

Effects on identity

For both men and women, difficulties with fertility can affect key aspects of their identity. For women, it can question their femininity and motherhood, leading to feelings of inadequacy and shame. Men may struggle with their sense of masculinity and self-worth.

Isolation and stigma

The struggle can feel isolating. Fear of judgment and lack of understanding from friends, family and even healthcare professionals can contribute to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Also Read: Yoga Asanas To Control Insomnia: Simple Exercises For Sleep And Better Health

Coping with Infertility: Coping Processes

Faced with fertility-related problems, individuals often use various coping mechanisms to manage their emotional turmoil, says Dr. Singh. He gives the following advice:

Seek professional help: Therapists specializing in fertility issues can provide counseling for individuals and couples to deal with emotional challenges and healthy communication.

Open Conversation: Open dialogue, both private and public, can challenge underlying social norms and reduce stigma.

Collect more information: Arming yourself with the right information about fertility and other methods can help you feel empowered and give you some hope for the future.

Connect with others: Join support groups that can help you meet people who are facing similar problems and understand you better.

Allow yourself to cry and be angry: Don’t try to shut down your feelings, but rather acknowledge them.

“Fertility and mental health are intertwined, shaping an individual’s experience and emotional landscape. Acknowledging the emotional distress of fertility challenges is essential to moving forward and understanding inclusive approaches to reproductive health,” said Dr. Singh.

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