When is it time to see an Infertility Counsellor?
When you are trying to conceive, you are putting your body through the wringer, but the toll on your emotional health can be the biggest one of all.
You can face ups and downs, long periods of waiting with no result, repeated disappointments and even tragic heartache.
This would be a hard time for even the happiest, most secure person in the world, let alone regular people like you and me.
Studies have revealed that couples dealing with infertility have emotional stress levels similar to those dealing with HIV, cancer or chronic pain.
Seeking help for this is the most normal thing you can do.
Humans don’t do anything difficult well if they do it alone.
If you are going through this process as part of a couple, you have probably realized how much you are leaning on each other right now.
You might have a close friend or family member that you confide in or even a group for support.
But there is so much more that you can get from talking to a professional infertility counsellor, which is why most IVF programs provide one as part of their program.
How do you know you need an infertility counsellor?
It is very hard to define the need for a counsellor in terms of time, because every person’s need will be different.
You can’t say, you will definitely need one after 12 months of not conceiving naturally or 3 unsuccessful cycles of IVF, or after you’ve had a miscarriage, but you don’t know.
It is not something measured in time.
You need a counsellor when you need one, that is when you are starting to feel like you could use some help.
This can be when you start struggling or when your relationship is feeling tested, or when you seem to lose your enjoyment of life or ability to focus on anything else.
It can also be when you have thoughts you need to make sense of, or answers you need to find, or options you need to explore.
You need an infertility counsellor whenever you feel they might offer you something that you don’t already have or can’t do alone, or would do better with their help.
Which is anytime really.
Some people will wisely seek help from a counsellor before they even start trying to conceive, as a way to get extra perspectives and help them monitor and maintain their mental health from the very beginning.
It can be very beneficial to have an objective professional eye watching before any problems start, to precisely stop them in their tracks.
What are some signs during the infertility process that you need a counsellor?
Sign #1: When infertility has taken over everything
When you are facing infertility it can become very difficult to cope.
Feelings of sadness, frustration, self-blame and anxiety can often overwhelm you.
At times you might benefit from talking to someone or receiving psychological therapy, or medication for symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Sign #2: When you stop talking to each other
If you feel like you and your partner are not communicating, it may be time to get an external third party to hear you both out.
An infertility counsellor can help with all aspects of your relationship, from your communication to intimacy and addressing problems that each individual is having.
People cope with stress in very different ways, and you may not know what each of you is going through, so counselling can help you to understand and support each other again.
Sign #3: When you are torn on a difficult decision
There will be some huge decisions in this process.
You may need to decide to pursue donor sperm or eggs, or surrogacy.
You may need to consider adoption or decide to stop trying for children altogether without any success.
Sometimes the answers to these problems will be clear, but often you and your partner will be very torn about what to do.
When there are pros and cons and stress no matter what you decide, it will help so much to have a professional to talk it through with.
Someone specialising in infertility will also have a detailed knowledge of your options and an excellent understanding of what you are going through.
For a balanced and informed choice on anything, talking about it in counselling can help.
Sign #4: When you are grieving
There may be some tough times ahead in your infertility journey.
Couples trying to conceive face sometimes multiple miscarriages and must deal with the grief and loss of a much-wanted child, sometimes over and over again.
Many will also deal with the relinquished ability to play a significant role in their child’s conception, such as having to use a third party donor for sperm, eggs, or a need to adopt.
It is common for couples to underestimate just how hard this process will be, and the feelings of loss, failure, hopelessness and pain can be overwhelming.
The infertility counsellor will help you make decisions, and then cope with the reality of life through those decisions.
You can also talk about how you will deal with other people’s opinions when you have to tell them what options you are pursuing, as how family will feel can often weigh heavy on a couple’s mind.
Sign #5: Planning for the future
By its very nature, trying to have a baby is planning for the future.
But the future might be evolving a bit differently to how you’ve planned.
A counsellor can help you talk through changes and the best ways to accept your new life.
This can include things like:
1. How you will tell your future child about adoption or third party donation in their birth
2. How to face a life with only one child if you planned a big family
3. How to deal with multiple births
4. How to accept a childfree life
Your counsellor can recommend someone to see you on an ongoing basis if need be, particularly if you have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
Even once you are pregnant, you will face repeated times in your child’s life when you might struggle, and it is always a good idea to have help on hand.