Women who have experienced infertility are more likely to be depressed

The emotional impact of infertility is considerable and apparently long lasting. A recent study by researchers at Cardiff University highlights the long-term negative impact of unsuccessful fertility for women more than 10 years following failed fertility treatments.

The researchers tracked the fertility outcomes and mental health status of 7,000 women who had attended IVF clinics in the Netherlands from 1995-2000. Mental health questionnaires were answered 11-17 years after treatment. At the time of the study, 6% of women still wanted to have children. Women who were unable to let go of their wish to have a child, were particularly susceptible to a range of long-term mental health issues while women who were able to “let go” of their desire to have a child, were more likely to be happy. The researchers were particularly surprised to find that the inability to let go of the desire to have a child was strongly associated with poorer long-term mental health outcomes, irrespective of whether the women already had children or were childless.

Lead researcher, Dr. Sofia Gameiro, from Cardiff University said:

“We found that women who still wished to have children were up to 2.8 times more likely to develop clinically significant mental health problems than women who did not sustain a child-wish. For women with children, those who sustained a child-wish were 1.5 times more likely to have worse mental health than those without a child-wish. This link between a sustained wish for children and worse mental health was irrespective of the women’s fertility diagnosis and treatment history.”

The results also indicated that those who started treatment at older ages had better long-term mental health than those who started younger. Relationship status also factored into the mental health of the women, with married or cohabitating women having better mental health than women who were single, divorced, or widowed. Finally, education was also a factor, with well-educated women having had better long-term mental health than those who were less educated.

Read more about the study here.

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