Infertility is a medical condition that can touch all aspects of a person’s life. It may affect how you feel about yourself, your relationship with your partner and others, and your general perspective on life. If you had always assumed that pregnancy would come easily then dealing with your diagnosis may be difficult for you. Most people facing infertility treatments can benefit from the support provided by family, friends, medical caregivers, and professional counsellors.
The following information should help you to decide if you need to seek professional help in managing the emotional stress that is associated with infertility.
You may wish to consider counselling if you are feeling depressed, anxious, scared, or are so preoccupied with your infertility that you feel it is hard to enjoy life. Many people going through infertility treatment feel like they are unable to think about anything else. During an IVF treatment there are many stages to be conquered and each brings its own set of fears; will I have enough follicles, will aspiration be successful, will my eggs be successfully fertilised, will we have quality embryos to transfer – and after all that, there is the two week wait to contend with to find out if you are pregnant. This four week period can be fraught with intense rollercoaster emotions that should not be taken lightly.
Counselling is also very beneficial to those who feel they need to investigate and discuss their options. Facing the possibility of having to use egg or sperm donors, or a surrogate mother can be very challenging and unexpected and decision making can be very tough when you are feeling emotional. Talking your options through with a professional can help you to make informed and rational decisions from a good place, and give you the confidence you need to proceed with the next steps to becoming a parent.
Signs that you might benefit from professional counselling may include:
- Constant preoccupation with your infertility
- Loss of interest in usual activities and relationships, or marital discord
- Persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, or worthlessness
- Agitation and anxiety
- Social isolation
- Increased mood swings
- Depression (or thoughts about suicide or death)
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Confusion about treatment options or when you are not sure what to do
- Considering third-party reproduction (donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryos, surrogacy)
A professional counsellor can teach you coping skills and strategies to hopefully alleviate some of the depression or anxiety associated with infertility treatments. Your counsellor can also help you to sort through your options helping you to make informed decisions based on what the treatment options may involve, including the financial and emotional stresses of these choices.
Mandy Rodrigues our resident psychologist is available for private consultations. Telephone +27 (11) 463 2244.