Emotional Reactions & Counseling
Couples who have experienced fertility problems have faced many frustrations, disappointments, tests and possibly operations before treatment is considered. The treatment itself can be physically and emotionally taxing. The stress is aggravated by waiting to start and then wondering whether each stage of a treatment cycle will go well. Everyone has difficulty coping with this stress from time to time. Help is available, so please ask for it. The longer your feelings of isolation and helplessness remain unshared, the greater the likelihood that frustration, anxiety and depression will increase. There may be times when you feel no one understands what you are going through but please be reassured, this is not an uncommon feeling. We are happy to talk to you about any problems you may be experiencing. Just call.
To minimise the negative impact of these feelings we suggest the following:
- The better understanding you have of the processes involved, the less helpless you will feel. So we strongly recommend you learn as much as possible about your treatment by reading this, the relevant information given and asking questions. Follow up reading can also help (see Self Help).
- Join a patient support group (see Self Help). Talking to and getting the support from others in the same situation as your self is always helpful. So does discovering your feelings are normal and shared by others.
- Our counsellor is available to help individuals or couples who are considering, having or ending treatment at Fertility First. A brochure is available detailing the services she provides and also includes some ‘Tips for Coping’. We can also give you the names of counsellors and psychologists outside Fertility First, if you feel that would be more appropriate to your needs. There is an additional cost for counselling, unless it occurs during a treatment cycle. The cost is subsidised by Fertility First, as we believe it is important to maximise your access to this service.
There is evidence that stress reduction will improve the chance of getting pregnant. However, dealing with the stresses of infertility and treatment can be a challenge. Therefore, we offer a program with the basic goal of helping people to stop living in 28 day cycles and start getting more enjoyment out of their lives.
‘Fertility Feelings’ is a ten week group therapy program run by our counsellor, a clinical psychologist, with the senior nurse co-ordinator as co-therapist. This group is run for women, however partners are invited for two sessions midway through the program. It aims to reduce distress and anxiety in three ways. First, to reduce the sense of isolation, by giving you an opportunity to share your experience of and feelings about infertility and treatment in a supportive environment. The second is to help you understand and avoid the potentially negative impact of infertility on your relationship. Third, the program aims to teach you strategies for managing stress and anxiety.
Such as how to:
- challenge automatic negative thought patterns,
- be good to yourself,
- express emotions using journal writing and assertiveness,
use humour to reduce stress and
perform relaxation techniques.
At the beginning and end of the program our psychologist will interview you and ask you to complete a questionnaire assessing your level of emotional stress. This will help you evaluate the changes you have made.