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Health Psychology - Psychosocial Impacts of Infertility

Updated: May 12, 2022

Health psychology examines how biological, social and psychological factors influence health and illness. An area of health that sometimes seems to be ignored is the reproductive health. This is something that affects many individuals, but seems to be too heavy to discuss. Therefore, I want to discuss it here and break the stigma!


Infertility is the inability to get pregnant. Infertility is more common than it seems. According to the CDC, about 7% of married women aged 15 to 44 in the United states are infertile (unable to get pregnant after 1 year of trying to conceive). The CDC also reports that about 12% of women aged 15 to 44 have a hard time getting pregnant or carrying the pregnancy to term. But it is important to keep in mind that infertility can affect any individual, regardless of gender identity.


This blog will focus on women’s issues that can lead to infertility. While many things can cause infertility, there are two common causes of infertility in women:

  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes women to not ovulate or to ovulate irregularly. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility.

  2. Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue grows outside your uterus. According to womenshealth.gov, Endometriosis may affect more than 11% of American women between 15 and 44. Additionally, infertility affects up to half of all women with endometriosis.


It is clear that there are many medical causes for infertility, but what some individuals seem to ignore is the emotional impact this can have on the person. Not only can it create stress for the couple, but it also creates distress for the individual. Infertility can cause individuals to feel devastation and helplessness. Additionally, society has certain values for women to have children, which is added pressure and stigmatization.


There may be options for individuals struggling with infertility, such as IVF and other treatments, but these are not guaranteed to work. This may create a sense of false hope. In the event of a failed IVF attempt, the individual can become even more emotionally distressed than before, on top of the newfound financial burden of these treatments.


When individuals grieve a loss, it is helpful to talk with someone about this loss. Therapy can be extremely beneficial for feelings of grief. Grief may be one of many feelings that infertility causes, and therefore therapy can be a good option. Therapy can help individuals struggling with infertility by focusing on the emotions they are experiencing due to this loss. Research shows that certain psychological techniques have been shown to be beneficial for infertility patients. Just being heard by a therapist can help infertile individuals, as they are often only looked at for medical symptoms over feelings. In addition to being heard, therapists can provide certain interventions, such as coping-skills training, to help the individual manage their feelings. Therapy may give infertile individuals the first sense of true hope after this loss. Therapy can help anyone who is dealing with any sort of emotions, but would be especially useful to these individuals who are unable to conceive. In addition to this, we can all do our part in decreasing stigma by making this a topic that is not scary to talk about. If we make it a safe topic, we may be able to show love to these infertile couples.

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