The Impact of Fertility Treatment on Mental Health-image

The Impact of Fertility Treatment on Mental Health

Medically Reviewed by Hertility on March 22, 2024

In this article, we’ll explore how fertility treatments can affect your mental health. We’ll discuss the ups and downs and tips for taking care of your emotional wellbeing.

Quick facts:

  • Fertility treatment can be a huge emotional rollercoaster. 
  • Financial stress, isolation, failed treatment and social pressure can all have an impact on mental health. 
  • It’s important to prioritise yourself, lean on your loved ones and embrace empathy during treatment. 
  • If you need support with your mental health, you can speak to one of our fertility counsellors at any time. 

Understanding the emotional side of fertility treatment 

Sometimes, the road to parenthood is not as straightforward as we may initially think. If you’ve struggled to conceive naturally, don’t want to, or can’t, fertility treatments can be a great option. 

But they can come with a huge range of emotional challenges, that are often lost in the conversation centring around all of the physical aspects of the procedures. 

According to recent studies, up to 30% of people seeking fertility assistance report symptoms of anxiety and depression, while nearly 40% grapple with elevated stress levels.

Fertility treatments like egg freezing and IVF are often described as ‘emotional rollercoasters’, with moments of joy and love, and moments of sadness, uncertainty and fear. 

The anticipation of each treatment cycle, uncertainty of outcome and the financial burdens can all take a toll on mental health. Many individuals and couples going through fertility treatments may feel isolated or like they’re carrying the burden alone, which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

Some individuals may also feel pressure to conceive within a certain timeframe, adding to the stress. This pressure can come from societal expectations, family, or personal goals.

Here we lay out some tips for looking after your mental health during treatment as well as some proactive ways to deal with the prospect of failed treatment.

Tips for looking after your mental health during fertility treatment

Everyone deals with stress differently and it’s important to find a method that works for you, as well as understanding your triggers. Some of these methods may work for you. 

Get as much information as possible about your treatment 

Understanding the fertility treatment process can significantly reduce anxiety. Research the steps involved and make sure you know exactly what will happen at each stage. Prepare a list of questions for consultations with your doctor or specialist to clarify any doubts or worries. Knowing what to expect can make the process feel less daunting, allowing you to feel more in control of your journey.

Don’t make it the only topic of conversation 

While sharing your feelings and concerns with your partner is crucial, it’s essential not to let fertility worries or discussions about your treatment dominate every conversation. Taking breaks to discuss non-fertility-related topics, especially if you’re going through this process with a partner can provide relief and maintain emotional connections with your loved ones. 

Lean into your family and friends

Your support network is invaluable during fertility treatment. Lean on family and friends who are empathetic and understanding. Share your experiences, but also make time for enjoyable activities together that can take your mind off things. These connections can offer emotional support and a sense of normalcy.

Consider fertility counselling

Fertility counselling can offer a safe space to explore your emotions and concerns with a mental health professional. These experts can guide you through the emotional challenges of fertility treatment, providing valuable coping strategies and emotional support. You can book an online appointment with one of our fertility counsellors at any time. 

Identify your triggers

Take time to understand how stress affects you personally. Recognise your personal triggers and signs of stress, such as irritability, sleep disturbances, or physical tension. Once identified, develop a toolbox of coping strategies that work for you. This may include relaxation techniques, journaling, exercise or talking to a friend.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques, like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can help you stay grounded during the emotional turbulence of fertility treatment. Regular practice can reduce anxiety and increase your overall sense of well-being.

Keep active and don’t isolate 

Maintaining physical activity and staying engaged in enjoyable activities can positively impact your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help alleviate stress. Additionally, avoid isolating yourself during treatment. Maintain social connections to provide emotional support and prevent feelings of loneliness.

Avoid any other big life changes

The fertility treatment journey itself is a significant life event that can be emotionally taxing. Avoid introducing additional stressors, like moving to a new home or starting a new job, during this period if possible. Staying in a familiar environment and maintaining your established routine can provide stability and reduce anxiety.

Join a support group

Support from friends and family can also be vital, but it’s important to remember that not everyone will understand the emotional complexity of fertility struggles. Joining a support group can allow you to connect with other people going through the same struggles. There are lots of online groups available or in-person group counselling-based sessions.

Waiting for your pregnancy test result

The two-week wait, that agonising period between embryo transfer and the pregnancy test, is often one of the most emotionally challenging phases of fertility treatment. It’s a time marked by heightened uncertainty and anxiety, as the long-anticipated results of your efforts hang in the balance. 

Try to plan ahead for activities and distractions that can help take your mind off the uncertainty. Having a plan in place can provide a sense of control over your time and emotions during this period.

Keep a schedule of daily activities, work commitments, or outings with friends and family. Consider engaging in hobbies you enjoy, reading a good book, or taking up mindfulness and relaxation techniques. It can be beneficial to focus on tasks and experiences that bring you joy and fulfilment. Remember that a busy mind has less space for worries.

Lean on your support network during this challenging time. Share your feelings and concerns with loved ones, as they can provide invaluable emotional support. Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear, or a comforting presence, friends and family can help alleviate some of the anxiety and loneliness you may be feeling. Don’t hesitate to communicate your needs to them.

Facing the prospect of a failed fertility treatment

Experiencing a failed fertility treatment can be emotionally devastating. It’s a moment where dreams collide with harsh reality, and the weight of unmet expectations can feel overwhelming. 

Coping with such a setback requires resilience, support and a willingness to adapt. It’s essential to allow yourself the time and space to grieve the loss of your original plan. It’s a natural part of the healing process. While adapting to new circumstances can be challenging, it’s also an opportunity to reassess your goals, values, and priorities.

Embrace the possibility of a different path to parenthood, which might involve exploring alternative fertility treatments or considering adoption. It’s essential to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and your journey may take unexpected, yet meaningful, turns.

Consider other family-forming options:

Failed fertility treatment does not equate to the end of your journey to parenthood. There are various alternative family-building options to explore. Adoption is a beautiful and rewarding path that allows you to provide a loving home to a child in need. Surrogacy may also be an option for some individuals or couples. 

Additionally, fostering meaningful connections with children in your extended family or community can provide a sense of fulfilment and nurture your innate parental instincts.

Speak to a fertility counsellor today

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, we deeply advise on seeking prompt support. Remember, you are not alone in this struggle, and there is hope and support available to help you navigate the challenges ahead.

At Hertility Health, our professional fertility counsellors specialise in the emotional aspects of fertility and reproductive health. During an online confidential 1-1 chat, they can provide emotional and mental health support, fertility treatment counselling and more.

Our counsellors are trained psychotherapists accredited with the BACP (British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists) and BICA (British Infertility Counselling Association).


Zoya Ali BSc, MSc

Zoya Ali BSc, MSc

Zoya is a scientific researcher with a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology and a Masters in Prenatal Genetics & Foetal Medicine from University College London. Her research interests are reproductive genetics, fertility preservation, gynaecological health conditions and sexual health.

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