As a fertility counsellor, I see all types of clients who come to talk about their fertility and infertility problems. Fertility counselling is for anyone, male and female, who would like to talk confidently about any aspect of their fertility. Clients may come to therapy for just a few sessions to talk things through, while others choose to attend more regularly depending on their circumstances.
Fertility counsellors provide professional, experienced therapeutic support to women, men and couples who are affected by potential and existing infertility problems. They are also experienced in working through grief and loss, relationship problems and the many life circumstances which bring clients into therapy. Many of us are familiar with hearing about couples who are having difficulty conceiving or who are going through IVF treatment.
Therapy can be beneficial for anyone who would like to talk openly and honestly about their fertility plans or fears for the future at any stage. Getting support and guidance on lifestyle changes, reducing stress, improving self-care and addressing relationship concerns ahead of pregnancy is common. These days there is a range of options to contemplate when it comes to preparing and planning for a child, depending on the circumstances. It can be difficult to talk openly about these options with family and friends. Natural conception, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, fostering and choosing not to have children are all choices that can be talked through with your therapist.
Other common reasons clients come to fertility counselling are related to physical, reproductive, psychological and sexual problems. Social factors such as career, relationship breakdown and the absence of a committed relationship also can have a direct effect on planning a family. Each person’s circumstances are unique to them and their relationship. Similarly, everyone copes and deals differently with life’s challenges, particularly in a relationship where both people are trying to support each other. Understanding how to cope better and look after yourself with the support and guidance of a therapist can help make life feel less complicated.
Women may have a concern about fertility and having a child at any stage. This concern can come long before they are even ready to consider getting pregnant. This anticipatory worry can be linked to all types of life experiences, such as relationship status, sexuality, sexual abuse, fear of pregnancy or sexual dysfunction, i.e. vaginismus. For women who are having difficulty conceiving or staying pregnant, primary or secondary infertility is often an ongoing worry, something which they are trying to navigate through with little adequate support. The total loss of fertility on either side of a relationship may happen completely unexpectedly due to a sudden illness or accident and is often deeply traumatic and distressing.
Infertility counselling also supports women who are experiencing chronic medical conditions, reproductive surgery, early menopause and disability, which may result in fertility complications. Coming to terms with the consequences of any of these conditions with the support of a therapist over time can be part of a healing and recovery process.
Infertility often puts a natural strain on the strongest of relationships. Many couples feel that these challenges help to bring them closer together and give their relationship a deeper meaning. At the same time, they each may experience stress, tension, isolation and a range of complicated mixed emotions. Learning how to positively support and understand each other is important to the well-being of both individuals, who will invariably be experiencing different things at different stages. Therapy can help couples to feel supported together and learn how to be emotionally more supportive of each other.
Parents, family, friends, and co-workers can be affected by infertility. Being able to talk freely in therapy about how best to deal with these extended relationships and situations can help to reduce stress and tension. Fertility counsellors are familiar with the many challenges that come with fertility problems and are there to help you through them.
If you or your partner are affected by any of the problems mentioned in this blog or are concerned about anything fertility and infertility, then talk to your GP or a Fertility Counsellor. To book an online fertility counselling appointment with me, visit my booking page at orlaghreid.com/online-therapy.
The National Infertility Support and Information Group provide support meetings and information to anyone experiencing infertility in Ireland.
The British Infertility Counselling Association has helpful articles, information and links on their website and on all social media platforms.