For many people, counseling is an essential component of dealing with the feelings they experience during infertility treatment. A study in which a psychiatrist interviewed women before their first medical visits for infertility found that 40 out of every 100 had some type of mental health problem, mostly anxiety and depression, even before starting treatment. Most women who have unsuccessful ART (assisted reproductive technology) procedures report symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, and isolation, that may be long lasting. Recognizing these feelings and taking action to address them will not only help your mental well-being, it may also benefit your fertility.
How Distress Affects Fertility
Most studies on how distress affects fertility have been done with women undergoing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatments. The majority of the studies show that the more distressed infertility patients are prior to treatment, the less likely they are to get pregnant. In one study, women who reported the least distress the day of their IVF egg retrieval were nearly twice as likely to become pregnant and give birth as the most distressed women.
In another study, a nurse practitioner provided some women in an IVF program with detailed information about what to expect, accompanied them to treatments, and called them daily. These women were more than twice as likely to become pregnant as women without this level of support.
If you are coping with infertility, what does all this mean for you? Concern about fertility does cause distress, but you are not to blame for your infertility. Keep that in mind always. Discuss your feelings with your partner, family, and friends in the way that is most comfortable for you. This is your journey, you are in control of what, when, and how much to share.
If you are seeking or undergoing infertility treatments, get the information you need to feel in control. Seek a program that offers support, counseling, and education throughout the process. If health insurance or local availability restricts your choice of programs, ask where counseling and education are available, or work with a support group.
Not becoming pregnant when you want to, coping with infertility, and undergoing fertility treatments is stressful. Obtaining the support and resources you need can help you feel better and may even improve your chance of success.
A Range of Emotions
Infertility can affect every aspect of your life. Wondering whether you will have a baby, deciding whether to start treatment, choosing when to stop unsuccessful treatments, living with the discomfort and precise timing of treatments, and coping with financial issues are just a few of the stressful issues couples hoping to grow their families encounter.
Infertility also affects women’s relationships and sex lives with their partners. Some treatments require many medical visits at specific times, affecting a woman’s ability to keep a job. Women may feel blamed for their fertility problems by friends who comment “if you would just relax/adopt/take a vacation or see my doctor, you would get pregnant.” Even religious beliefs may be challenged; many infertile women have reportedly felt that for the first time in their lives, God has not answered their prayers.
Our fertility counselors can help you work through the myriad emotions you will feel. They are here to support you and help ensure that you have the tools you need to throughout your journey to building your family.