Not getting pregnant after months or years of trying to conceive is devastating – and fear of infertility treatments can prolong the heartbreak.
I found a study on how women are affected by their fear of infertility treatments. This study also reveals:
- How long most women wait before starting infertility treatments
- Why women have a fear of infertility treatments
- The effect of infertility treatments on a woman’s emotional and physical health
Most women – 68% – never thought they would have a problem getting pregnant, even though they know that age decreases fertility in both women and men.
How Fear of Infertility Treatments Affects Getting Pregnant
This is summary of a study called Understanding the perceptions of and emotional barriers to infertility treatment: a survey in four European countries in Human Reproduction; the link to the study is at the end of the article.
Fertility treatments have a strong emotional effect on women who want to have children. A study of European countries with the highest number of assisted reproduction cycles identifies which aspects of reproduction treatment contribute to psychological stress.
Not getting pregnant or inability to conceive is extremely stressful for women who want to have a family. This notion is shown by a study published in the Human Reproduction journal on patients in four countries with the highest number of cases of assisted reproduction cycles (infertility treatments) in Europe: France, Germany, Italy and Spain. If you’re having trouble conceiving a baby, read 4 Most Common Reasons You Can’t Get Pregnant.
“Infertility causes a series of varied emotions that have a negative impact on important aspects of a woman’s life,” says Juan García Velasco, one of the authors of the study, who is also director of the Infertility Institute of Valencia and lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Rey Juan Carlos de Madrid University. “[Infertility in women] is linked to depression, anxiety, anger, cognitive imbalance and low self-esteem.”
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This research study not only analysed the emotional impact of infertility on women, but also identified those aspects of ovary stimulation that contribute to the physical and psychological stress suffered by many patients. The 445 women between the ages of 18 and 44 years taking part in the study had experienced difficulties in conceiving. While some had never undergone any infertility treatment, others were receiving it at the time or had already received it in the past two years.
Almost a third of the participants said they began to worry from the moment in which they started trying to get pregnant and nearly half claimed to have felt ashamed or like a failure as a woman. (I believe part of the fear of infertility treatments is how friends and family perceive you).
Anxiety about injections for infertility treatments and the deterioration of their relationship with their partner were the main causes of stress. In this respect, the women who actually received infertility treatments said that they got closer to their partner (33% compared to 19%). The majority of participants felt that their partner supported them, especially those that received fertility therapy (63%). This can help women overcome fear of infertility treatments.
Women undergoing infertility treatments said they were more anxious when it comes to sex and negative emotions, such as impatience or frustration. Whereas those not having treatment said they felt “confused” and those undergoing treatment claimed to mostly feel “vulnerable and exhausted.” Fear of infertility treatments is experienced differently by different women, which affects getting pregnant.
Infertility doctors are working to decrease fear of infertility treatments for women. According to Velasco, “in order to overcome the physical and psychological challenges that such treatment implies, some form of protocol would be necessary that involves a minimal number of injections and an increase in readily available information in order to reduce stress and increase patient satisfaction.”
Waiting two years or more to start infertility treatments can increase stress. Velasco says infertility treatments can significantly affect women’s lives and their personal relationships. “However, despite its negative impact, many of those women trying to conceive do not seek medical help.” Their fear of infertility treatments may hinder their ability to get pregnant.
The reason why women wait for an average of two years before starting infertility treatments is that they want to wait to see if they can conceive naturally. The authors believe that this waiting period causes anxiety and regret and almost 58% of participants feel that they waited too long.
“We need to educate women to eradicate fear of infertility treatments and better prepare them for the demands of infertility treatments and its associated emotional effects,” says the author.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over a year, read 5 Signs You Should See a Fertility Doctor. Be honest about your fear of infertility treatments; the best way to overcome anything is to face it directly.
Source: Fear of treatment puts stress on women undergoing fertility therapy, based on a research study by Alice Domar, Keith Gordon, Juan Garcia-Velasco, Antonio La Marca, Paul Barriere, Fabiola Beligotti. Understanding the perceptions of and emotional barriers to infertility treatment: a survey in four European countries. Human Reproduction, Vol.27, No.4 pp. 1073-1079.