Scary! Fertility Treatments Could Cause PTSD

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Between tracking ovulation and undergoing treatments, trying to conceive can be a strenuous and stressful situation, especially if you aren’t successful. It can even be so emotionally taxing that women undergoing the process can even develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In a recent study, researchers surveyed 142 people who had undergone fertility treatments. Of the participants, 46 percent met the criteria for PTSD, meaning they could be diagnosed with the condition. Compared to the eight percent of the general population that suffers from PTSD, that’s quite a jump. Some of the common symptoms were feeling upset at reminders of their infertility, such as seeing commercials for baby diapers, feeling distant or cut off from people, or feeling hopeless.

The study’s lead researcher, Allyson Bradow, hopes this leads to a change in definition for PTSD and more discussion about the issue.

“The definition of trauma should be expanded to include expectations of life,” said Bradow, who went through fertility treatments herself. “Having children, expanding your family, carrying on your genetic code — that’s an instinctual drive that we have as human beings. And when that is being threatened, it’s not necessarily your life being threatened, but your expectation of what your life can be or should be like.”

Bradow believes that anyone undergoing fertility should be required to attend counseling. After all, the stress of infertility takes a psychological toll as well as a physical.

Do you think women who are trying to conceive should be provided therapy?

Plus more from The Bump:

Undergoing Fertility Treatments? You May Need to Try, Try Again

How to Deal When Everyone Else Is Pregnant (and You’re Still Trying)

How Much Fertility Treatments Cost