Why is fertility counseling an integral part of our fertility services?
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) states, “In helping create a new life, there is a human dimension with respect to emotions, thoughts, behavior, conflicts, and other psychosocial factors.”
“Only by including the psychosocial dimension into the infertility consultation and treatment will we be able to make biological reproduction human reproduction.”1
SCCRM understands that for many of our patients, getting to us has been a road filled with disappointment and setbacks. We understand that you are here because you are hopeful that you will now become a parent as soon as possible as we dedicate ourselves to help you achieve that dream.
Collaborating with Ellen, an objective, nonjudgmental, caring and experienced therapist who has personally experienced infertility treatment is a resource to:
- Help you work through the emotions you may experience;
- Strategize ways you can cope with your specific situation and discuss the unique decisions and treatment recommendations you are facing;
- Explore the challenges of coping with those in the fertile world (be it family or friends) who might not be as understanding or empathetic as you would hope;
- Cope with the very real and powerful grief of failed cycles or pregnancy loss;
- Care for yourself and your well being
Doing all of this in a confidential, psychoeducational/counseling consultation is often beneficial and can be a key to feeling empowered and in control again.
In addition, there are points before and during specific treatments when an exploration of your feelings about these options can clarify thinking and help with your decision-making. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends consultation with a mental health professional if you are at a treatment crossroad or exploring alternative treatment possibilities including third party assistance (sperm donation, gamete donation, surrogacy) which can raise some unique emotional, social and ethical issues:
- Transitioning from a traditional form of treatment to use of a third party
- The feelings involved in making this decision
- Choosing a donor or surrogate
- Issues of privacy, secrecy and disclosure including issues
- As a couple, having difficulty communicating about these complex decisions and feelings
ASRM also notes, “Everyone has feelings and emotional ups and downs as they pursue infertility treatment. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms over a prolonged period of time, you may benefit a great deal from meeting with a mental health professional”2:
- Loss of interest in usual activities and relationships; social isolation
- Depression that doesn’t lift or frequent mood swings
- Strained interpersonal relationships (with partner, family, friends and/or colleagues)
- Difficulty thinking of anything other than your infertility
- High levels of anxiety
- Diminished ability to accomplish tasks
- Difficulty with concentration
- Change in your sleep patterns (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, early morning awakening, sleeping more than usual for you)
- Change in your appetite or weight (increase or decrease)
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Persistent feelings of pessimism, sadness, guilt, or worthlessness
- Persistent feelings of bitterness or anger
A person or persons coping with infertility face complex issues, often consisting of biological, psychological, social and ethical considerations.” Along with ASRM and ESHRE, SCCRM and Ellen Winters Miller recognize that wanting children has a deeply emotional component; it is not ONLY a medical or biological journey.
1. Guidelines for Counseling for Infertility, Human Reproduction Journal, ESHRE May/June, 2001. Page 56
2. American Society for Reproductive Medicine Fact Sheet on Infertility Counseling and Support