There is no doubt about the mental stress caused by infertility. Women who try to conceive and hit the brick wall of infertility face stress, depression, anxiety and other mental side effects – this is something researchers already know. What researchers did not know was that huge populations of women face psychiatric disorders if they are unable to conceive. Researchers in Denmark followed up with nearly 100,000 women who faced fertility problems. The women in that group were compared to women in the Danish Psychiatric Central Registry. More than 50% of the women were able to conceive, but many of the women who sought fertility treatment never conceived or gave birth.
What is the Real Impact of Being Childless?
According to the Danish study, women who were unable to conceive were 18% more likely to suffer some sort of mental condition. The risk of the same women abusing alcohol was 103% - that is an amazingly high number. Schizophrenia and eating disorders were also elevated.
Doctors involved with the study realize they cannot change the outcome of fertility treatments and investigations. They can only do so much to increase chances of fertility and conception, but with this information they can flag women who may by at increased risk of suffering mental disorders, alcohol abuse and eating disorders as a result of not being able to conceive.
Are Women Affected Who Don’t Seek Fertility Treatment?
There is a very good chance that women who never seek fertility treatment and never conceive naturally are also affected by the increased risk of mental side effects. However, registries in Denmark require women to seek medical help for a condition for the information to the logged. If a woman does not seek treatment, she is not tracked and her battle with mental illness cannot be linked to her fertility issues. There may also be women who CHOOSE not to have children who suffer the same mental health issues.