We know that there can be a huge roller coaster of emotions for individuals and couples thinking about seeking assisted conception treatments such as Ovulation Induction or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). Chances are they already struggling with the knowledge of their infertility, and it can be impacting their self-esteem and relationship.
In their quest to start a family, there can be a lot to find out and decisions to make, right at a time when people are commonly feeling vulnerable and uncertain about how their dreams for the future might work out.
Many of the options available to assist with fertility, including egg, sperm or embryo donation, adoption or surrogacy, have wide-reaching implications that ideally need to be explored and understood before beginning. Some require agreements to be created between multiple parties – a process many people feel unsure how to start. For example, how do you decide whether a potential donor is right for your situation?
Commencing treatment with a fertility clinic can be an exciting and hopeful time, but it can also trigger challenging feelings including anxiety and low self esteem. Individuals may at times experience intense emotions including isolation, inadequacy, anger, despair or grief during fertility treatments, right when they would prefer to be feeling relaxed, positive, receptive and joyful.
Even when treatment all goes beautifully smoothly, it can be helpful to have supportive people around who can assist you in making sense of your reactions, keeping in touch with what is most important to you, and looking after your relationships. Friends and family can be invaluable at this time, but the stress associated with fertility treatment can also strain these relationships and at times supporters may not know what to say or do to be most helpful.
How Fertility Counselling can help
Seeing a fertility counsellor may assist in the journey by helping you to:
- Consider issues you might not have thought about otherwise. For example, how might a future child feel about being donor-conceived, and how might this be best managed?
- Learn coping strategies such as relaxation or self-hypnosis to use during medical procedures.
- Find ways to manage those periods of time when you have to wait to find out whether a cycle was successful or not.
- Create a safe space to acknowledge the grief often associated with infertility.
- Communicate with your partner about what is happening, so that you can stay close and connected during the process.
- Clarify what you are feeling, and come to decisions about important things – like how long to continue treatment and when to consider other options.
- Meet in a formal setting to explore options and draw up agreements eg with a potential donor or co-parent.
Michelle Linmore is a Senior Psychologist at Vision Psychology, and has over 20 years of counselling experience. She has a passion for assisting people experiencing the fertility issues. To see her, you can book an appointment online or freecall 1800 877 924.