Is there a connection between your mental health and fertility?

Trying to conceive can be a, well, trying time. What might initially seem like a simple enough task can morph into a more complicated process.

Feelings of depression when TTC are real, and they can have an impact on your fertility. With proper treatment and self-care, you can alleviate some of the symptoms of depression while TTC, including fertility issues.

Depression is more common than you might think

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common mental health problem that women experience. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about one in every eight women will experience depression at some point in her life, so if you’re wondering how many people out there struggle with the condition, know that it’s something many women experience.

Many women find the TTC journey emotionally difficult

There are plenty of women who find that trying for a baby is an exciting and special experience. But for others, the road to a baby can bring about difficult feelings. Depression can develop due to the emotional rollercoaster that a TTC journey may bring, even in women who have never experienced it before. And for women with a history of depression, embarking on this journey can make them start to worry about the likelihood of a recurrence of depression further down the road, whether it’s during pregnancy or when their baby is a newborn.

Getting treated for depression might help you conceive faster and healthier

A recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that women with severe depressive symptoms take longer to get pregnant than women without these symptoms. For reasons that aren’t quite clear yet, this study suggests that depression might interact with a woman’s ability to conceive.

Untreated major depression can have very serious health risks for a mother and her fetus, because the mother may not be able to properly care for her or her baby’s health. She may use drugs or alcohol during pregnancy in an attempt to self medicate, not get adequate nutrition due to appetite changes, miss prenatal checkups due to fatigue, or even struggle with suicidal thoughts or behaviors; all of these factors can increase the chances of premature labor or of delivering a baby with a low birth weight.

Treatment for depression varies between people and takes a little trial and error

Treatment for depression can have a positive impact on a TTC experience, pregnancy, and beyond. Seeking treatment for the condition as early as you can is one of the best ways to take control of your health and your experience. The first step in getting treatment is talking to your healthcare provider, who can assess your mental health and help come up with a treatment plan.

Depending on your history with depression and how far along you are with TTC, your provider may prescribe therapy, medication, or both. It will probably take some time for you to figure out what works best for you. Don’t worry – that’s completely normal. The most important thing is that you recognize that you may be struggling with depression and feel comfortable speaking to your provider about what’s been going on. From there, the two of you can work together on a treatment plan that helps you start feeling like your best self.

Read more
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Antidepressants: Safe during pregnancy?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Feb 3 2015. Web.
  • Alice D. Domar. “Depression and Infertility: Treatment Considerations.” Resolve. Resolve: The National Infertility Association, 2017. Web.
  • “Trying to conceive, pregnancy, and mental health.” Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Feb 12 2016. Web.
  • “Depression in Women.” Mental Health America, 2016. Web.
  • Yael I. Nillni, et al. “Depression, anxiety, and psychotropic medication use and fecundability.” AJOG. 215(4)453.e1-453.e8. Web. Oct 2016.
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