Dealing with infertility is stressful. Studies have shown that individuals struggling with infertility rank it as the most stressful event in their lives. In addition to the “emotional roller coaster” often associated with infertility treatment, many individuals suffer from symptoms of depression and anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, defeat, and low self-esteem. Couples dealing with infertility may also experience significant strain and conflict in their relationship.
Further, individuals and couples undergoing infertility treatment must make many difficult medical and treatment decisions. Choosing the best doctor/clinic, the type or level of treatment, and how long to continue treatment can be challenging decisions. Additionally, increasingly complex decisions must be faced if treatment is not successful, such as the use of third party reproduction, adoption, or a living a child-free lifestyle.
The goal of infertility counseling is to enhance the quality of life for the individuals and couples experiencing infertility. Counseling can be useful at any point during the experience of infertility, including before, during, and after treatment. It provides a supportive place to explore feelings, issues, and concerns surrounding infertility and learn new coping skills to face the emotional challenges. The psychologist can work with their clients to reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, grieve losses, and help them with the decision-making for medical treatment and family building options. Further, the psychologist can help their clients understand and manage the impact that infertility can have on their relationship.
Common issues addressed in counseling include:
• Depression and anxiety
• Feelings of grief and loss
• Stress management and relaxation training
• Decision-making related to treatment
• Exploration of family building options
• Consideration of third party reproduction
• Deciding when to end fertility treatments
• Improving communication between partners
• More effective ways for partners to support one another
• Reducing marital conflict and increasing intimacy
• Sexual difficulties related to infertility treatment
• Relationships with family, friends and co-workers
• Social isolation
• Coping with hurtful comments and questions
• Deciding if, how, and when to tell others about your infertility and family building decisions
• Coping with holidays, family gatherings and child-focused social activities
• Transition to parenthood