Many couples have a dream of building a family together. The joy of parenthood is indescribable. However, an increasing number of couples are beginning to face the problem of infertility. Infertility is the inability to conceive a baby even after having unprotected sex for more than a year. Infertility can take a toll on the couple in various ways and so, many infertile couples seek counselling for infertility. Given the lack of awareness on the topic of infertility, failure to conceive a child naturally can make intended parents feel ashamed or upset. Counselling for infertility helps these couples feel positive and think of infertility treatment options for the issue. Dr Banker and team understand that infertile couples can go through a lot of stress. In this blog let us understand signs when counselling for infertility is needed, different types of infertility counselling and how to find the right counsellor for you and your partner.
How can infertility affect intended parents’ mental health?
As mentioned earlier, many people wish to have a baby of their own, so when diagnosed with infertility, it is often alarming for them. Counselling for infertility helps couples heal from this psychological trauma or prepare them to deal with the issue better. Infertility does not have just a psychological impact, it affects how people perceive them as well. Due to societal stigma regarding infertility, people can pressurise them to conceive or ask intrusive questions. These questions, comments, or the general issue of infertility can hurt the intended parents’ feelings and can affect their sense of security. It is also noticed that some couples feel unconfident about their future and plans as well. These are some of the common feelings infertile couples experience and hence to overcome them, many intended parents require counselling for infertility.
What can trigger mental health issues for an infertile couple?
The reason to opt for counselling for infertility can be many and may vary from couple to couple. Some of the reasons are:
- Inability to conceive
- Societal or family pressure to conceive
- Management of treatment- Not being able to find a proper solution
- Unsuccessful treatment or continuous treatments
Signs that you or your partner may require counselling for infertility:
An infertile couple may show signs of deteriorating mental health through
- Social isolation
- Feelings hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness
- Feelings of stress, anxiety and depression
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Blame themselves for the problem
- Problems in their marriage or relationships
- Mood swings
- Disruption of their appetite and sleep patterns
- Consumption of alcohol or drugs
It should be noted that these are just some of the signs that infertile intended parents may show. If you or your partner is showing some of these signs, it is recommended that you seek a counsellor.
What is counselling for infertility?
Counselling for infertility is a process which guides and assists an infertile couple to understand and find solutions to problems arising from infertility and its treatments. It provides intended parents clarity on ways to deal with infertility in a better and healthy fashion. Counselling for infertility can help infertile couples decide the continuation or termination of infertility treatments. However, in the recent past counselling for infertility has been tailored according to the infertile couple’s needs. For example, coping with the 2 week waiting period before taking the pregnancy test. These sessions have been tailored due to several factors such as intended parents needing psychological help and not just guidance on the treatment options, the varying nature for each treatment and the fears that come attached with the same, and guidance on when to discontinue infertility treatments etc. These days, even hospital staff are trained to teach simple exercises for patients when they feel anxious or nervous. Several types of equipment have been developed to assist hospital staff that show distress in the infertile couple during treatment. The growth and demand for counselling for infertility show that it is an effective and useful tool to cope with infertility.
Types of counselling for infertility:
Like any other therapy, the number of sessions and type of counselling for infertility is determined by the counsellor. Usually providing therapy for intended parents is a systematic and step-by-step process. There are various types of counselling and not every infertile couple will seek all types. Let us look at some types of counselling:
1. Information counselling- This type of counselling for infertility is done by medical staff such as nurses and doctors. This is a very basic type of counselling. It educates the infertile couple on the possible causes of infertility and the severity of the issue. As it can be shocking or upsetting, hospital staff are required to inform the patients with as much caution as possible.
2. Decision counselling- This type of counselling for infertility explains the various types of treatments available for the infertile couple. This also helps the patient understand the best suitable treatment option for them. As the name suggests, it enables the couple to come to a decision. It explains the success rates of the treatments, the possible risks that may arise due to the person’s health, etc. This is especially needed if the patient has other health risk factors.
3. Support counselling- The third type of counselling for infertility is required when the infertile couple needs moral or emotional support. The requirement of support is valid for any issue that the intended parents are facing due to infertility like problems in their marriage or an unfortunate miscarriage. Crisis counselling for infertility is quite similar to support counselling. It is usually sought when the infertile couple is facing a crisis, such as failed or unsuccessful treatments. This counselling is not done by the hospital staff but by mental health professionals.
How do I find a therapist?
Intended parents can ask their physician or gynaecologists for referrals to mental health professionals whose expertise is in counselling for infertility. One can make use of the vast internet and search for counsellors near him or her. Infertile couples many times do their research through parenting books, articles, and forums and talk to other couples who are going through the same issue. Counselling for infertility can be provided by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, marriage counsellors etc. Here are some of the factors that you need to consider before opting for counselling for infertility with a mental health professional.
1. Finance- Therapy sessions costs depend on many factors like the number of sessions required per week, or the intensity of the issue. Find a counsellor who you and your partner can afford.
2. Time- Counselling for infertility is quite popular and there are many marriage counsellors available. However, it is important to remember that the most popular counsellors in the city may not be able to give you the time you require. For example, you and your partner might feel you require a session every week, but the counsellor will only be available every 2 weeks. So, the attention that a counsellor can provide an infertile couple going through a crisis is of utmost importance.
3. Location- Counselling for infertility must help intended parents feel comfortable, and provide problems for their solutions. Finding a counsellor close to your house can reduce your stress during the commute. Rescheduling of sessions, an extension of sessions too can be done without panicking the intended mother further, especially if she is already seeking infertility treatment. So, it must be kept in mind to find counsellors who are easily accessible.
Before agreeing to attend sessions with a counsellor, read up about their work or enquire regarding their qualifications and experience. Some people require female therapists or younger therapists and so it is important to talk to your prospective counsellor before booking a session with them.
How else can I find support?
There are several ways through which intended parents can find support without opting for counselling for infertility. It is important to stay positive and remember that infertility is a very common problem. There are several technological advancements where many infertile couples have delivered healthy babies through infertility treatments. The mental headspace intended parents are in before signing for infertility treatments surely play an important role during pregnancy. This is why counselling for infertility is sought. It helps couples in finding courage and being prepared. One can also join parenting groups or support groups through social media and engage with other intended parents. You can join various support groups both on the internet and attend meetings. Support can come through newspapers, magazines and videos as well. Counselling for infertility is just one solution to finding support for an infertile couple. Surround yourself with your loved ones and talk about your fears and inhibitions. If your friends are not able to help you, talk to your doctor as they can help you see things objectively.
In conclusion, counselling for infertility completely depends on the intensity and severity of the issue for infertile couples. Some couples may not require these sessions, and may already have a positive attitude. However, requiring professional help for support is completely normal. All over the world, counselling for infertility is a common way to cope up with the issue of infertility. Infertility surely has an impact on the intended parents and can make them feel hopeless or lost. Therefore, it is important to seek therapy if the infertile couple experiences strong negative feelings. It provides them with the best possible solution and the courage to face the issue rationally and healthily. If you would like to read more such blogs by Dr Manish Banker, Ahmedabad, you can visit our website.
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