Dr Zana Marovic, Phd

Clinical Psychologist, Johannesburg



Receiving a diagnosis of “infertility” can make you feel helpless, frustrated and depressed. The stress of infertility is a two way street. The emotional experience can’t help but create tension in one’s body. And tension in one’s body can’t help but intensify the worry that you are somehow contributing to the problem. You are not responsible for your infertility, but you can choose to be responsible to your infertility in ways that go beyond whatever you are already doing.

Negative feelings and unexpressed emotions such as the anguish, guilt, stress, anxiety and shame can create extreme emotional conflict, which affects every cell of the body and can cause or compound reproductive problems.

Negative self-talk has a direct causative effect on the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Fears that might be block woman’s conception: pregnancy, childbirth, physical changes in body, medical treatments, loss of her independence, is she ready to be a mother, will she be a good mother, will dysfunctional patterns from her childhood be repeated, will the new baby be a threat to the relationship with her spouse, miscarriages, abortions, feelings of inadequacy, and high expectations.



It is aimed at addressing woman’s underlying fears that might be causing her infertility. Further, providing ways to handle stress by exposing her to coping skills that she really needs and learning how to achieve state of relaxation using breathing techniques will enhance woman’s ability to conceive. A Harvard Medical School Study showed that of 184 women with fertility problems, 55% of those who completed a 10 week course of relaxation training and stress reduction had a viable pregnancy within one year, compared with just 20% of the group who had no stress reduction training. Another study found that women undergoing fertility treatments who remained relaxed and optimistic had better overall outcomes than women who were pessimistic about their ability to conceive.


Hypnotherapy can help women identify and process emotional issues within the subconscious that might be interfering with conception. Hypnotherapy reduces stress and increases confidence, instilling a sense of control, which in turn enables woman to maximize chances of conceiving naturally and/or increase the success of medical assistance. A recent Israeli study on 185 woman showed that the success rate of IVF treatments doubled in his test group from 14% to 28%, when the subjects underwent hypnosis during implantation.

Couple Therapy

Infertility might bring questions about integrity or meaning of couple’s relationship. It might go something like this, “If we can’t have children, maybe we aren’t meant to be married.” Or “If we can’t have children, who are we? Are we a real family?” These thoughts are entirely normal, but they are also not true.

Studies show that when it comes to medical issues, women make the first medical appointments in dealing with infertility, and they make most of the follow-up visits as well.

They ask more questions than their male partners; and female patients spend more time with the doctor than do male patients.

The result: Woman takes over the infertility treatment plan and is the captain of the team.

Even though the diagnosis of infertility factors is evenly split between men and women, women view this issue as more impactful in their lives and self-image than do men. In one study 15% of men and 50% of women said that infertility was “their greatest burden ever.” One reason for this is biological: the female reproductive system has a limited supply of eggs and time is pressing on. Another reason is sociological: most women expect to become mothers from childhood, when they began playing mommy with their dolls. Choosing not to have children is one thing, but being unable to conceive and bear children is quite another.


Sexuality and infertility

People tend to confuse infertility with sexuality. The terms “sterile man” or “barren woman” are unappealing and emotionally hurtful. When we internalize these images, we feel wounded and unattractive as well. Old stereotypes persist that people without children must have sexual issues: he can’t “get it up” or she must be “cold or frigid.” The truth is that these days, sexual issues are rarely a cause of infertility. It’s rather the reverse: dealing with infertility affects people’s sex lives. More than half of the couples dealing with infertility experience a decrease in sexual activity as well as a less satisfying sex life. They also report more sexual problems related to anxiety, depression, and medication side effects, such as less sex drive, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and lack of orgasm.

Consider couples therapy when:

  • You feel isolated with your problem & need external support.
  • You disagree on a treatment plan or adoption path.
  • Struggle with sexuality.
  • Either you or your partner are clinically depressed and need a safe treatment setting in addition to your individual support.
  • You are handling marital conflict poorly or in destructive ways.
  • The integrity of your relationship feels threatened by the stressors or identity challenges of infertility treatment.

Successful strategies

  • Partnership Mentality: “We’re in this together.” “We’re on the same side.” “Partners share the problem 50:50 but each is 100% responsible for their own part.”
  • Discuss with whom you can share your situation. Respect partner’s need for privacy while meeting your needs for support. Getting outside help puts less pressure on your relationship.
  • Define what you can and cannot control. Don’t expect to control either yours or your partner’s feelings.
  • Limit yourselves to ten minutes each of respectfully listening to the other without interrupting.
  • When you feel overwhelmed, resist letting discussions about infertility consume your time together.
  • Don’t mistake differences in communication styles as differences of intention.
  • Make differences in decision-making and communication an asset rather than a threat.
  • Create a center of your life separate from infertility.
  • Focus on positive life lessons. Through resolving their infertility, many couples report improvements in communication, self-esteem, and maturity. Overall, they feel that their marriage or relationship is stronger.

Acupuncture & infertility

More than 3,000 years old, the theory behind the success of acupuncture is that we are all made up of energy and there are specific points, or meridians of energy, which run through the body. By stimulating these blocked areas of the meridian using thin, solid acupuncture needles, the energy flow is restored. This creates harmony in the body and eventually resolve the illness.

A German study on the influence of acupuncture and pregnancy, in conjunction with Western medical fertility treatment suggested that if a woman with good embryos receives acupuncture twenty-five minutes before and after an embryo transfer, her chances for a positive pregnancy would significantly increase. Recent studies have also found that women, who combine acupuncture with in vitro fertilization, have increased pregnancy rates unlike those who do not.

Acupuncture is a low cost and low risk treatment which will, at the very minimum reduce stress during what can be a very painful, frustrating and emotional time.

Infertility Support Groups

Medfem Infertility Clinic

Fertility Astrology - Nicki Smuts