What Is Infertility?

Infertility is described as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to full-term. Infertility affects both men and women equally, with about 15% of couples struggling with the condition. People under the age of 35 are considered infertile after a year of trying to conceive. For people over the age of 35, infertility is diagnosed after 6 months of trying to conceive. Couples over 40 are considered infertile after 3 months of failed conception.

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What happens during the fertility process?

The first step is fertility testing. Doctors test both the male and female patients to determine what fertility issues are affecting the couple. These tests include pelvic exams, ovulation tests, and sperm analysis. The process may also include lifestyle changes, surgery, or medical treatment depending on the fertility issue. Doctors will also discuss fertility options like fertility drugs, assisted reproductive technology (ART), or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

Combination treatment

If an underlying health issue is the cause of infertility, like blocked fallopian tubes, the patient must undergo surgery and further monitoring before the fertility process begins. Couples discuss fertility options with doctors before creating a treatment plan. Treatment plans can include a combination of fertility drugs and ART/IUI. For example, IVF requires the woman to take fertility drugs and then undergo a surgical procedure to retrieve eggs. Additionally, couples may also opt for third-party assistance by using a surrogate or sperm/egg donor.

How does infertility affect a person’s mental health?

Infertility is a complex issue. Most people do not realize infertility is an issue until the couple starts trying to conceive. People might discover an underlying health issue is the cause of infertility or struggle to conceive after taking fertility medications or receiving treatments. This creates a lot of stress on the couple physically, financially, and emotionally. Furthermore, many people can experience feelings of shame, guilt, and loneliness due to the failure to conceive.

Stress and anxiety

Feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can also affect the couple’s sex life and relationship. Added stress can wreak havoc on the body and further hinder the fertility process. Stress raises the body’s cortisol levels leading to high blood pressure and other health issues.

How can couples deal with mental health during the fertility process?

Couples dealing with fertility issues should speak to a mental health professional. Couples can undergo individual, couples, or group therapy. Joining a support group can help couples find comfort and an outlet to express fear and frustration. A mental health professional can help patients understand that worrying about the fertility process is normal but can have negative effects. Reach out to a medical professional today to discuss fertility concerns and mental health options.

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