Dr. Kemi Ailoje

Signs and Symptoms of Infertility related depression and anxiety are very real, continuing from our last week’s discussion, as you flip through the list below, you can jot down signs you have identified you experienced and discuss about the solutions with your doctor/specialist.

When coping with infertility it may be 100% normal to want to avoid pregnant women, baby showers, naming ceremony or avoiding women with young children but if you notice you are overly
• Feeling extra lonely most of the time
• Avoiding friends and family in most instances
• Staying home and away from social get-together that you once enjoyed
• Feeling alone even when you are with others

This may be signs that you are suffering from the feelings of isolation and may be due to shame.

You Can No Longer Enjoy Activities You Once Did

You may discover that some activities you previously found pleasure in, no more seem interesting, your past hobbies, friends, places that you once loved, you just cannot get yourself anymore to enjoy them. Sadness over infertility may be coloring your perception of life.

Frequent Feeling of Panic or Anxiety

Worrying about upcoming fertility test, unknown outcome of test, side effect of treatments, unknown outcome of treatment are all normal in women coming with infertility. However if you find out that
• Worrying gets into the way of your daily life
• Nervousness does not seem to let up after period of tension
• Anxiety over nothing with recurrent panic attacks

You are sure not dealing with mere anxiety. It is infertility related and seeking counseling may help you return to resolve such internal conflict.

Getting Easily Frustrated or Angry

Depression due to infertility may also manifest as getting more readily frustrated and impatience towards others. You may find yourself snapping at co-workers or family members over small things. You are getting angry at the slightest provocation because of the deep feeling of anger and frustration from within. Such feelings should not be taken for granted.

Trouble Concentrating or Remembering Things

You may experience concentration problem due to side effects of medications used in the management of infertility, however poor concentration may also be a sign of one’s mind being clouded with the thought of infertility. Spending all day thinking infertility so as not to be able to concentrate on other aspect of life are signs of depression and seeking help early with help is required.

Your Relationship Is Suffering

Some couple gets closer as a result of infertility challenge while some drift further apart. The financial burdens of fertility treatment can also come between couple this may be evidenced as we see below:
• Couples argue over fertility treatment decision
• The woman worry that her partner may leave her over infertility
• Couples may have forgotten how to have fun together

Couples facing similar situation should seek counselling together

Sexual Dysfunction

Most couple trying for baby in a bid to ensure timed intercourse during ovulation may end up limiting sex to mean a baby seeking exercise and thus lose the fun of sex. You may forget that sex is much more than for making babies. This can seriously impact your sex life and may result in:
• Decreased sexual desire
• Performance anxiety or erectile dysfunction
• Decreased enjoyment of sex

Sexual dysfunction further reduces the chances of conception, hence couples experiencing this need to seek counselling and also discusses it with their Fertility Specialist

How Does Depression affect Fertility?

Studies have shown that depression may lead to a lowered sex drive, increased drinking, smoking, poor nutrition all of which can inhibit pregnancy.

On the relationship between anxiety / depressive disorders and infertility, it has been reported that hormonal levels in depressed people fluctuate greatly. In Depression there is elevation of Hormones like Cortisol and Adrenaline which have negative impact on the reproductive system.

While infertility causes depression and anxiety, depression and anxiety also have negative impact on infertility.

Management of Depression in Infertility

Infertility can be heart breaking, going through testing and treatment can be time consuming and tiring. It is certainly normal to experience sadness and even anger at times, but infertility does not have to take your life, although it is common for those with infertility to have depression, it does not mean that it is inevitable. It really hurts to die in silence, you may benefit from an appointment to talk to your Gynecologist/ Fertility Specialist and also attempt the under listed:

• Find a counsellor, most Fertility Centers offer free counseling.
• Call a trusted friend to talk about your struggle
• Focus on self-care and be positive
• Join a Faith based group/ Fertility support group
• Interacting with support group with other women/couples who have been through what you are going through, triumphed and experiencing the joy of parenthood can be encouraging and may help pull you out of a depressive state. Remember life is worth living.