Q: "My RE recently referred me to see a psychologist. I was a little upset at the suggestion. I thought infertility was a medical problem. Does my doctor think I am making myself infertile? Does he think that it is all in my head?"
A: "This is a common misperception anytime a medical professional suggests that a patient seek support from a mental health professional. I can assure you that your doctor does NOT think that you are doing anything to make yourself infertile. Your doctor is probably concerned about your emotional health and knows that infertility treatment can take a heavy toll on your psychological resources. The longer a patient is undergoing infertility treatment, the more likely that person is to experience high levels of depression and/or anxiety. Managing stress and learning tools to cope with the emotional demands of infertility treatment can help you maintain your sanity while working toward your goal of having a baby. Some research even suggests that patients undergoing IVF who participate in a structured mind/body program have higher rates of pregnancy than patients undergoing IVF without such support. This type of psychological intervention is not appropriate for persons with severe mental disorders. Health psychologists are professionals who work with normal people who are experiencing psychological symptoms (e.g. depressed mood, insomnia, anxiety, hopelessness) associated with a medical condition. Thus, you can rest assured that your physician believes you to be an emotionally stable person who has the mental strength and stamina to benefit from such psychological support."