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Infertility Can Drive You Crazy? No Duh!

a blog by Suzanne Rico, July 18, 2012

In the middle of our third IVF cycle I lobbed the F-bomb at my husband. We had never used foul language in an argument before, and he looked confused and shocked when I screamed, “F@#$ you!” and ran from the room crying hysterically. I don’t remember what we were fighting about — perhaps he had eaten the last Dorito or neglected to replace the empty toilet paper roll — all I know is that I felt like I had gone nuts.

A new study now confirms what I have always known; infertility can drive you crazy. Danish researchers looked at almost 100,000 women who had been through infertility treatment and found that those who were not successful in having a child had an 18 percent higher risk of being hospitalized for mental disorders than women who ended up with a baby.

I wonder if I’m the only one who sees this as a no-brainer. I’m no doctor or psychologist, but I have counseled many women struggling with infertility, and not one has escaped the distress, anxiety, moodiness and depression that were often my unwanted companions. The combination of unfulfilled desire, desperation, loss and fertility drugs do not exactly equal a happy, go-get-em-tiger kind of attitude. When I got pregnant with twins on my first IVF cycle, and then lost one at six weeks and the other at 10, I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. And to be back at the starting gate (before the bruises from the needle sticks had even faded) was devastating.

For me, what the study highlights is the need for infertility patients to have psychological support along with their physical treatment. Infertility increases the risk for alcohol and substance abuse and even schizophrenia, according to the Danish doctors. A small support network of family and friends propped me up during some very dark days, and my husband did his best to excuse f-bombs and any other crazy behavior. This kind of support in and of itself can be crucial to success.

"Infertility depression is a challenge all on its own,” says Jane Frederick, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at HRC Fertility in Orange County, California. “Emotional support, whether from personal resources or from forums online or in person, are resources patients should utilize to help them stay positive. The good news is that if you are going through infertility, you don't need to suffer through it alone."

The other good news is that more than half of the women in the Danish study did go on to fulfill their dream of having a child. And — no duh! — they felt better: not so crazy, not so sad, not so desperate. So make sure you take care of yourself in every way while striving for a family, and don’t ever hesitate to reach out for help.

Follow Suzanne Rico on Twitter @suzannerico, Pinterest (Suzanne Rico), — or friend her on Facebook!

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