Depression: an emotional obstacle to seeking medical advice for infertility Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To investigate the mental and general health of infertile women who had not sought medical advice for their recognized infertility and were therefore not represented in clinical populations. DESIGN: Longitudinal cohort study. SETTING: Population based. PATIENT(S): Participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health aged 28-33 years in 2006 who had ever tried to conceive or had been pregnant (n = 5,936). INTERVENTION(S): None. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Infertility, not seeking medical advice. RESULT(S): Compared with fertile women (n = 4,905), infertile women (n = 1,031) had higher odds of self-reported depression (odds ratio [OR] 1.20, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.43), endometriosis (5.43, 4.01-7.36), polycystic ovary syndrome (9.52, 7.30-12.41), irregular periods (1.99, 1.68-2.36), type II diabetes (4.70, 1.79-12.37), or gestational diabetes (1.66, 1.12-2.46). Compared with infertile women who sought medical advice (n = 728), those who had not sought medical advice (n = 303) had higher odds of self-reported depression (1.67, 1.18-2.37), other mental health problems (3.14, 1.14-8.64), urinary tract infections (1.67, 1.12-2.49), heavy periods (1.63, 1.16-2.29), or a cancer diagnosis (11.33, 2.57-49.89). Infertile women who had or had not sought medical advice had similar odds of reporting an anxiety disorder or anxiety-related symptoms. CONCLUSION(S): Women with self-reported depression were unlikely to have sought medical advice for infertility. Depression and depressive symptoms may be barriers to seeking medical advice for infertility.

publication date

  • October 2010