One of the most gratifying events of human experience is that of becoming a parent. Sharing your love with a child of your own can be an overwhelmingly happy time. But what if that event takes longer than expected or isn’t a possibility? Should you keep going? Or maybe other options need to be explored? Problems conceiving a child can lead to a number of intense emotional feelings which can take their toll on your relationships, sex life, psychological and physical health. Emotions such as anger, guilt, envy, loss, anxiety and isolation can erode any remaining hope of becoming parents and exploring other paths towards starting a family. You may feel that fertility problems are purely the issues of doctors; many people overlook the positive impact that counselling and psychotherapy can have on supporting you through this difficult time.
How can counselling help with fertility problems?
By providing a safe space in which to explore the array of emotions invested in fertility treatment, counselling can support both you and your partner to discover coping strategies, resolve ongoing relationship issues and, for some cases, help you in accepting the consequences of ending treatment. Counselling can help at all stages of fertility treatment and you may choose to undertake counselling together with your partner or separately. Many people can manage their problems by talking with friends and family, but it can be difficult for people who have their own children who usually support you to understand the powerful emotions that can accompany the experience of infertility. Further, in supporting you in your journey, fertility counsellors may use a specific approach or they may work from several theoretical perspectives, tailoring the method to suit your individual circumstances.
Benefits of counselling and psychotherapy for infertility problems:
- Explores sensitive and powerful emotions surrounding treatment
- Improves communication and relationship issues with your partner
- Develops coping strategies to manage difficult feelings such as loss
- Manages the day-to-day uncertainties of treatment
- Manages surrounding issues such as depression and anxiety.
Infertility counselling at Harley Therapy™ London
At Harley Therapy London, our counsellors have extensive training and experience of aiding couples and individuals through the difficult stages of infertility. We can support both you and your partner to overcome the emotional turmoil surrounding infertility and aid you in making difficult and important decisions.
Information about fertility problems
According to NHS statistics, about one in six or seven couples may experience difficulties when trying to conceive, which means that around 3,500,000 people are similarly affected in the UK. There is no sole definitive factor which causes infertility. According to the NHS, approximately one third of fertility problems are due to issues with the female, one third are down to problems with the male, and in up to 23 per cent of circumstances doctors are unable to pinpoint a cause.
Whilst there are a number of reasons for both men and women having trouble conceiving, some issues can affect both sexes. These include:
- Age: Fertility reduces as we age.
- Stress: Evidence is growing which suggests stress does have a direct impact upon fertility. For example, in men, stress can limit the production of sperm, and it affects ovulation within females. It can also have a substantial impact upon your relationship including a reduction in libido and turning sex into a routine based on ovulation.
- Weight: Being outside of a healthy weight can seriously impact fertility for both men and women. Women who are overweight or severely underweight will often find that their ovulation is affected, or stopped entirely.
- Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can damage the quality of sperm. Drinking more than 4 units of alcohol per day could affect fertility.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): Several STIs can cause infertility, for example, Chlamydia.
If some of these issues are also causing both you and your partner concern, counselling may help you to gain the motivation to make lifestyle changes to aid fertility.
Further reading on infertility and psychology
- 'Trying to Conceive: True Stories of How Couples Overcame Infertility' by Michaela Ryan (2009)
- 'Fertile Thinking' by Cat Dean (2010)
- 'The Complete Guide to IVF: An Inside View of Fertility Clinics and Treatment' by Kate Brian (2010)
- Psychological impact of fertility problems: an emotional minefield