Infertility & Postpartum Mental Health

#MomsNeedToKnow – a collaboration by Pooja Lakshmin MD, Motherhood Understood, & Momming With Truth. Going through infertility & its treatment is a long, hard path. In fact, infertility & the treatment process can be triggers for both anxiety and depression. Women with pre-existing mental health conditions may see symptoms worsen during this time. The rollercoaster of emotions that come with each cycle can be difficult to manage. Prolonged fertility treatment is associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression.

But what happens after a successful pregnancy? Many patients assume that once their wish comes true, and they take home a healthy baby, everything will be fixed & life will be blissful. But, there’s research that shows mental health symptoms may persist during pregnancy & after delivery. Women who suffer miscarriage experience higher levels of anxiety and depression with subsequent pregnancies, especially early on.

So, it’s important to keep in mind that those who are having trouble trying to conceive are in a vulnerable group and will remain at high risk even after giving birth. One study found that 25% of women going through IVF went on to develop PPD. The frequency of IVF treatment & perceived stress of the process were associated with the depression. Social support & family functioning were both protective factors.
Monti, F, Agostini, F, Fagandini, P, et al. (2008). Fertil Steril. II Gong, X., Hao, J., Tao, F., et al. (2013). European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. II Lee, Shu‐Hsin, Lin‐Chuan L, Pi‐Chao K, et al. (2011). Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.

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(The information provided here is not medical advice. It is provided for education only. Do not delay seeking treatment because of something you read here. If you need help finding a perinatal mental health specialist in your area, check out the Postpartum Support International HelpLine: 1-800-944-4773, or their website www.postpartum.net for local resources. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, someone else, or in a clinical emergency, you should go to the ER or call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.)

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