Women who are unable to have children are at a greater risk of alcohol addiction.Women who want children but are unable to become pregnant are more than twice as likely as their child bearing counterparts to be hospitalised for alcohol abuse. This alarming statistic was brought to light by a new study at the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre.
The research shows that infertile women are at greater risk of being hospitalised for more than just alcoholism. Women who are unable to conceive are also at an elevated risk of schizophrenia and eating disorders. In the study, which included nearly 100,000 women, those who were unable to bear children were 103% more likely to be hospitalised for alcoholism. These same women were 47% more likely to be treated for schizophrenia.
Dr. Birgitte Baldur-Felskov of the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre said, "This is only the tip of the iceberg. We were only able to analyse the risk of severe psychiatric disorders resulting in hospitalisation."
Many more infertile women may have undergone private treatment or simply suffered in silence. This means the risk for alcoholism and other mental health disorders could be even greater.
This, argues Dr. Baldur-Felskov, is proof that the psychological impact of infertility is not a passing problem but a long term issue. Some British fertility specialists even argue that the results prove infertility should be classed as a disease.
Dr Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: "I was aware that women who were unable to have children were not happy and had difficulty with their ongoing lives, but these results are really shocking." He added, "I think it illustrates my personal frustration with all those people who say infertility isn't a disease and it shouldn't be funded because having a baby is a lifestyle choice."
In light of these new findings some researchers argue treatments like IVF should receive more public funding and support. Dr. Baldur-Felskov believes women also need to be made aware of the risks with failed IVF. This new research shows there is a real mental and emotional toll on women who are unable to become pregnant.
While more research is needed, it is important for doctors and anyone considering IVF to understand any and all possible complications. Many women have their heart set on becoming a mother and if they are unable to conceive, the shock can trigger any number of problems.