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The Connection Between Infertility and Depression


by Jennifer A. Redmond, Editor-in-Chief, May 20, 2010

A former Food Network personality, Juan-Carlos Cruz, has been arrested and charged with attempted murder and solicitation to commit murder. According to the Los Angeles Times, sources say that Cruz and his wife have infertility and that the alleged murder for hire of Cruz’s wife was a plan hatched to put her out of her misery. We don’t know if that is in fact the case, but we do know that women with infertility suffer with greater levels of stress and depression than the average person.

“Three studies have shown that the stress of women with infertility is equal to the stress of women with cancer,” says Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, in Waltham, Mass. and the Director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF. “We forget how stressful it is to not get pregnant, to have a fertility workup, to have fertility treatment,” she says.

Other studies have demonstrated disproportionately high rates of depression as well, according to Domar. Approximately 34 percent of women going through IVF had depression, and 68 percent suffered from depression following a failed IVF cycle. This is compared to 3 percent of the general public. And, only 21 percent of those who were depressed were in treatment for depression, Domar adds.

According to Domar, it’s important for women with infertility to recognize that depression is associated with infertility, and be proactive about it before you hit rock bottom: join a support group, talk to friends, or see a counselor. Domar also suggests learning coping skills and cognitive restructuring, which entails reframing negative thoughts.

While infertility will leave a scar, it’s a temporary crisis, Domar explains. Studies have shown that women’s long term mental health is not affected by infertility or the method chosen to resolve infertility.