Infertility & Mental Health

I was having a bit of fun on Twitter the other day, sharing the crazy searches that made people click on my blog. Some of them were downright wrong, but I was amused imagining what the reaction must have been to land on my infertility blog. **Sinister laugh**

However, the few bizarre and entertaining ones were overshadowed by lots of sad cries for help. It is those that I would like to address in this post, specifically searches like

“infertile friend says she feels worthless”

“family refuses to knowledge infertility grief”

“i am scared that i am not going to love my baby eventually because of my long struggle with infertility”

“infertility suicide”

“suicide and infertility”

Can you see why I’m alarmed? Now, I’m not a mental health expert, so any advice I give should not be taken as professional advice, nor used in place of seeking professional help. In fact, my advice is to seek professional help. I’m not saying that to brush you off. I’m saying it to potentially save your life, or at the very least, alleviate some of your misery.

So many of us struggle with negative thoughts and depression along with our infertility, thinking that we’ll just snap out of it one day, or that it will get better if we can just be strong enough. It may happen that way for some, but most of us need help from someone else. Feeling hopeless, depressed, anxious, worthless, or suicidal when faced with a major illness or life-changing circumstance (i.e. infertility) doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. While it’s normal to feel all manner of negative emotions when dealing with infertility, there is a point at which those negative emotions can get out of hand or start to negatively impact your relationships or your ability to function. A mental health professional can help evaluate whether you have more than just “the blues” and set you on a path to coping with all the shit that infertility likes to travel with.

Not to discourage you, but you need to know this: Your first counselor or psychologist may not be right for you. Mine wasn’t. She was capable enough, but we just didn’t “click.” I saw her for a few weeks, then just stopped going. (Note: You don’t have to break up with your therapist or doctor. You owe no explanations. You can just stop going.) Months later, I found my current therapist (who also runs the local Resolve support group), and she’s perfect for me.

I know from experience that taking that first step isn’t easy, so please don’t beat yourself up even more if you aren’t ready to make the call yet. At the very least, check to see if your community has an infertility support group. Resolve.org provides support group services all over the country, so that’s a great place to start. Your RE’s office may know of support groups, as well. If you belong to a church or wouldn’t mind a religiously focused support group, that may be another avenue.

Whatever route you take, please ask for help. Despite all the stupid quotes to the contrary, there’s nothing noble about suffering, and suffering doesn’t make us stronger. It’s the work we do to overcome the suffering that makes us stronger. And we can’t do it without at least a little help.

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For more information, please see

The Psychological Component of Infertility (American Society for Reproductive Medicine)

Battling the Self-Blame of Infertility (American Psychological Association)

Study Highlights the Importance of Infertility Support (FertilityAuthority)

Infertility Counseling: Getting Started (Psychology Today)

When to Seek Help article and fact sheet (Resolve.org)

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20 thoughts on “Infertility & Mental Health

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this. It’s funny how life works. I was JUST considering calling my therapist for an emergency session – today has not been a good one. I thought I could talk myself through this month, but it’s been hard.

    It’s so important that women going through this know that they don’t have a face it alone. It’s such a cumbersome burden that most people don’t understand. Thanks for writing this – know that it was the kick in the butt I needed today!

  2. Great post! This is so important! I think I may have googled something that negative myself in the first few months and it would have been helpful to find this post. Luckily I found my way to therapy first through a support group and then going to see a psychologist. It was so helpful!

    • It’s so important to have someone to talk to. I believe everyone who receives an IF diagnosis should be referred to a therapist, even if they don’t seem to need it.

  3. Totally agree. It’s scary to think about the people typing in those searches and how low they must be feeling. And I agree with the therapist thing – I’ve seen a few over the years for different things and hung onto a couple longer than I should have.

  4. Thanks for this! I wish I would have started seeing a therapist sooner, but I’m so glad I had one when our first IVF didn’t work. I was a mess, and it really helped to talk to someone.

  5. THANK YOU…..REALLY…….THANK YOU……..
    a song that has helped me lately, also, is ”Lullaby; by Nickel-back”
    also thank you/ for the extra direction you created for me today, 🙂
    i am so grateful for your blog

  6. Great Piece!

    I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for the seven months of therapy I had earlier this year after my diagnosis. Though I am still working through depression I am in a much better place now than I was before I started therapy.

  7. “suffering doesn’t make us stronger. It’s the work we do to overcome the suffering that makes us stronger.” This is so true! Thank you for saying it. I have my first appointment on Tuesday and I am both looking forward to it and dreading it… the receptionist said it would for two hours!

    • Good for you for making the appointment. It’s always weird starting out with someone new, but in a lot of ways, it’s easier to unload all your emotional baggage on a stranger, especially one trained to help you sort through it. I hope it goes well!

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