The stress related to a diagnosis of infertility parallels what is experienced with a cancer diagnosis or grief of the loss of a loved one. We all recognize that stress has a negative impact on our health and can impact fertility. However, most of what we know has been from studies based on the female partner. New research demonstrates that the stress of infertility on male partners should be considered as well.
Nearly 50% of men seeking IVF reported symptoms of depression. 50%! This study found that although major depression is more common in female partners than in male partners, it can still have a significant impact on fertility success. Couples in which the male partner had major depression were 60% less likely to conceive and have a live birth than those in which the male partner did not have depression.
Although this study shows an association between male depression and decreased likelihood of success with fertility treatments, it leaves many questions about whether one causes the other unanswered. What this study does a great job at, however, is demonstrating the need for us to focus on the health of all our families prior to conception.
Take Home Points:
- Infertility and the associated treatments are a major life stressor.
- Depression during fertility treatments can be common, in both female and male partners
- Untreated depression in men may decrease fertility
- Talk to your REI and primary care doctor if you think depression is impacting your life