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Infertility Distress Syndrome Test

Are You Experiencing the Infertility Distress Syndrome?

Take this test to determine how well you are coping with infertility distress and the level of care you need.

This is a "mock diagnosis" of what I call the "Infertility Distress Syndrome." I developed this "disorder" myself while experiencing infertility and wrote it up this way to explain the devastating and far-reaching effects of infertility in my lectures to Psychiatric Residents at UCLA. Check the button next to each symptom you are experiencing. Then press the "Total" button at the bottom to calculate your score and determine your level of Infertility Distress.

1. The preoccupation with infertility is a fulltime, all-consuming priority that negatively impacts normal life activities:
Interferes with all areas of life (eg., work, finances, relationships)
Forces the postponement of important life goals (eg., homebuying)
Denial of the need for relaxation and pleasure (eg., holidays & vacations)

This preoccupation is characterized by:

2. Behavioral Symptoms:
Repetitive, compulsive behaviors, in the form of monthly treatment cycles, daily basal body temperature tests, etc.
Chronic sense of urgency and overdrive.
Avoidance of family activities, baby showers, or places where children are present.
Hypervigilance to changes in the female body, especially breast tenderness and abdominal cramps.
"Checking" behaviors (eg., for signs of menstrual period or pregnancy)

3.Emotional and Affective Symptoms:
Tearfulness, even in public places or at the sight of babies and children
Grief over multiple losses
Fear of "toxic emotions," especially anger.
Guilt for "having waited too long" or for any imagined cause of your problem.
Shame and secrecy.
Displacement of anger onto pregnant women, families with children, and care providers.
"Mind/Body" split, due to internalized anger, resulting in somatic symptoms
Monthly mood swings on the "emotional roller coaster," coinciding with the treatment cycle, often exacerbated by ovarian stimulants and elevated levels of female hormones.
Delayed or repressed happiness at "good" news (eg., apparent ambivalence over the achievement of a positive HCG test)

4. Cognitive Symptoms:
Obsessive search for the latest research, experts, and answers.
Predominance of irrational negative thoughts.
Difficulty making decisions.

5. Physical Symptoms:
Altered body image or sense of alienation from one's body.
Decreased sex drive or sexual performance (eg., erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia).
Physical aches and pains, especially at sites of injections.
Weight gain over several months of ovarian hyperstimulants and hormones.

6. Prolonged identity crisis in a struggle to achieve the developmental stage of parenthood.
Increased marital tension or conflict.
Social isolation: only childfree or menopausal women are 'safe' friends.
Serious doubts regarding one's self-image as adult, male or female, or marriage partner.
Existential questions or soul-searching regarding the meaning of one's life, the viability of one's marriage, the existence of God, etc.


0-4: You are coping in a very adaptive manner. Continuing your healthy behaviors can lessen your experience of stress and give you the optimal attitude for success.

5-9: MILD: You have a mild case of the Infertility Distress Syndrome. Try getting yourself more outside support now so that you can avoid worse symptoms later. Start by identifying helpful and understanding family members or friends and reaching out to them. Don't keep the pressure between you and your partner alone. Add some time for self-nurturing to your weekly routine as well.

10-19: MODERATE: You are experiencing a moderate level of the Infertility Distress Syndrome. Infertility distress and depression may be negatively affecting your treatment despite your best efforts. If you haven't reached out already, it's time to get outside help, such as friends and family, a Resolve Cookies and Conversation Group, or a Mind/Body or Support Group. How well you take care of yourself in the weeks and months before a treatment procedure can improve your mood and outlook, decrease your stress levels, and increase your chances of success.

20-30: SEVERE: You are experiencing severe distress and probably depression as well. Your patterns of negative emotions, pessimistic thinking, and chronic overdrive have exhausted you mentally, emotionally, and physically. It's time to consider a break from medical procedures to recover your sense of well-being before pursuing further infertility treatment. Good counseling or a Mind/Body Group can help you feel your best, prepare you for whatever treatment lies ahead, and be more successful in your efforts.

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