Infertility and the role of psychotherapy

Issues Ment Health Nurs. Jan-Feb 2002;23(1):31-41. doi: 10.1080/01612840252825464.


Infertility affects 6 million American women and their partners, about 10% of the reproductive age population. Recent improvements in medication, microsurgery, and assisted reproductive technology (ART) make pregnancy possible for more than half the couples pursuing treatment, yet infertility is more than a medical condition. Infertility touches all aspects of a person's life. It affects how individuals feel about themselves, their relationships, and their life perspective. Stress is only one of a myriad of emotional realities that couples facing infertility deal with, often for extended periods of time. In addition to ongoing stress, infertility creates issues of guilt, anxiety, tension within the relationship, and feelings of depression and isolation. Treating couples and individuals who are involved in the journey of dealing with infertility is an opportunity for clinical specialists in psychiatric mental health nursing. The expertise of clinical specialists both in providing psychotherapy services as well as providing a bridge of understanding of sophisticated medical and surgical procedures places them in a unique position among the various disciplines offering mental health services. This paper provides an overview of the psychological issues that play a role in psychotherapy with this population and suggests specific clinical interventions and potential role expansion for psychiatric clinical specialists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility / psychology*
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychotherapy*