My first job after college taught me how deeply the medical establishment’s stigma runs against mental and sexual health issues. I was administering a survey to cancer patients about seven different aspects of their health, including mental and sexual. While the patients unanimously thanked me for finally asking, the doctors’ responses ranged from mild discomfort to rage. This stigma spills over to research, impacting what we fund and study. That’s why I was so excited to stumble upon a recent study looking at the mental and sexual effects of infertility.
The Study: Mood, Sexual Function, and Sexual Well-Being
In the study, over 250 Iranian women completed surveys about their mood, sexual function, and sexual well-being. Just under half of the women were controls: they had no history of infertility. The remaining participants were about equally split among those dealing with primary infertility (when someone has not gotten pregnant after at least one year of having penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex without birth control) and secondary infertility (when someone has been able to get pregnant at least once, but now is unable).The authors explored how each of these three factors—depression, sexual function, and sexual-related quality of life—interacted with infertility and each other. Here’s what they found.