Mental Health of Infertile Women in Nigeria

Upkong, Dominic ; Orgi, E. O. (2006)


Objective: To determine the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity and factors associated with poor mental health in women suffering from infertility. Method: The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Anxiety Subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADSA) were administered to 112 women with infertility at the time of their first presentation to a fertility clinic in a tertiary referral centre. The comparison group comprised of 96 women presenting at the family planning clinic of the same institution. In addition to demographic data, a structured questionnaire was used to collect obstetric information and clinical details from the participants. Results: The prevalence of psychiatric morbidity was 46.4% (GHQ cases) in the infertile women, 37.5% and 42.9% were cases of anxiety and depression respectively. Women suffering from infertility scored significantly higher on all outcome measures of psychopathology. The results of the multiple regression analysis showed that the socio-demographic variables of the women with infertility contributed to the prediction of psychiatric morbidity (GHQ-30 score), because of the effects of age, not having at least one child and poor support from spouse (R2 = .26 Adjusted R2 = .19 F(10,101) = 3.57 p = .001). Lack of support from husband also predicted depression and anxiety. Low level of education, polygamous marriage, unemployment, lack of support from in-laws and duration of illness were not predictors of mental ill health. Conclusion: Infertility is associated with high levels of psychiatric morbidity. Our findings reinforce the need for gynaecologist and healthcare professionals to look for psychosocial distress in women undergoing fertility treatment. Psychological interventions and improvements in the organization of care is essential to positively impact on outcome during treatment in this group of women.