Resource Document on Psychiatric Aspects of Infertility
Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, February 2019
The psychological impact of being unable to conceive despite trying is a profound loss and a significant life crisis (Kohan et al. 2015). Many individuals suffer in isolation, unaware that infertility is highly prevalent afflicting approximately one in eight couples worldwide. The feelings and reactions to infertility are complex, ranging from anger with self for the failure of one’s body to procreate (Kohan et al. 2015), an associated decrease in sexual desire, an impaired orgasmic function and a loss of sexual satisfaction when ‘sex by the clock for procreation’ is required (Kohan et al. 2015; Marci et al. 2012). Couples may feel socially excluded, negatively stigmatized (Ergin et al. 2018) and find it particularly painful to be around other couples with children or with unaware extended family members who make insensitive comments. Women trying to conceive face profound sadness and grief with each returning menstrual cycle. Seeking treatment with an infertility healthcare provider requires significant sacrifice of time, privacy and money with no guarantee of conception or successful birth. This can be disempowering, stressful, frustrating, and at times profoundly sad.