Infertility and women’s well-being: The effects of female factor infertility on depression and anxiety

  • Nadine M Rockwood Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Amanda Pendergast Memorial University of Newfoundland


Background: Female factor infertility is diagnosed when women of reproductive age are unable to conceive a pregnancy within 12 months of unprotected, frequent intercourse. Infertility affects between 11.5% and 15.7% of Canadian couples. The process of receiving a diagnosis and seeking treatment is often described as a devastating experience leading to psychological distress. 

Objective: A review of the literature was conducted to assess the impact of an infertility diagnosis on the development of depression and anxiety symptoms among women. The literature review was also performed to highlight a gap in the literature regarding infertility and its effects among North American women.

Methods: PubMed, PsychInfo, ClinicalKey, and Google Scholar databases were searched using the MeSH terms and keywords such as, female factor infertility, infertility, mental health, depression, and anxiety. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were established to identify pertinent articles for full-text review.

Results: The majority of infertility research has been conducted in Europe and Asia using self-report questionnaires. The main finding from the research was that women experienced increased levels of infertility-related depression and anxiety, particularly with longer durations of infertility, lack of spousal support, and childlessness. 

Conclusion: The literature demonstrated that women are at an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety following a diagnosis of infertility. Future research should focus on complementary qualitative research and quantitative research in North American populations.

Author Biographies

Nadine M Rockwood, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Faculty of Medicine, Class of 2019
Amanda Pendergast, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty of Medicine Assistant Professor, Family Medicine