When you are struggling to conceive, you might often feel like the world is a stifling, small place. The earth’s axis shrinks from being a 12,000-kilometre line, stretching from pole to pole, to being nothing more than a tiny white plastic stick.
While it might not feel like it, there is a wider world out there. It is a world where one in six couples are finding it hard to get pregnant, just like you. It is a world where, while it might not seem like it at the start, support – emotional as well as physical – does exist.
Here is a guide to when, where and why to seek emotional support.
Who seeks fertility treatment?
Right now, 3.5 million people in the UK are having trouble conceiving. That is enough people to fill Wembley Stadium 38 times. You are not alone.
The causes of infertility vary hugely including physical, psychological, and unexplained. Common physical causes include a lack of regular ovulation or blocked fallopian tubes in women, and a low sperm count in men. In a quarter of cases, there is not an identifiable reason why a couple cannot conceive.
Causes aside, one thing holds true; infertility does not discriminate, it can affect anyone, from any background, at any time.
When to seek help
It is recommended that you visit a doctor to talk about fertility if you have been trying to get pregnant for a year with no success. For women above the age of 36, it is advised that they make that visit a little bit earlier.
While the prospect of visiting a doctor can be stomach churning, try not to put it off. The sooner you visit a professional the sooner you can start to understand the situation, and take any next steps that might be necessary.
Emotionally, you might already be feeling disappointed and scared from attempting unsuccessfully to become pregnant. It is a good idea to start thinking about and preparing for the emotional side of fertility treatment.
Research shows that almost all couples undergoing fertility treatment experience sadness, frustration, and worry at some point during the process. Tearfulness, anger, desolation, and low confidence are also common. Both women and men going through fertility treatment go through periods of intense distress. Research, also suggests that as many as 42% of people going through fertility treatment have suicidal thoughts at some point in the process.
The unexpected emotional impact of fertility treatment, things to prepare for…
Stress can arise from more than one source. There is the anxiety associated with medical procedures, the invasiveness of tests, and worries over reactions to drugs and treatments. Then there is that feeling of your heart being put in a vice, when treatments go through setbacks or are unsuccessful, the monthly anticipation and disappointments.
Often there are also financial stresses. Few people get all their fertility treatment funded by the NHS. It is thought that up to 75% of people have to pay for some or all of their treatment. Money worries always add pressure, and you might have to make some difficult choices that affect your future and your dreams. The stress associated with this can be crippling.
Fertility treatment can also create relationship stresses; this can happen at the beginning of the process where everything seems new and intimidating. Relationship stress can also arise when anxiety, disappointment, and financial pressures start to accumulate and affect the relationship. If the process takes longer than expected, there might be disagreement on how long to commit to the treatments.
Then there is stress about other areas of life including work. There might be a lot of concern over how the treatment(s) will affect other areas of life; this can include worries about work and if your place or performance will be affected. There also might stress with other members of the family and social relationships, especially around different expectations.
How can counselling or psychotherapy help with these emotional stresses?
Getting a counsellor or psychotherapist in your corner early means that you will be better prepared to confront any emotions that come up during the process. The sessions can also help and support in managing expectations, disappointments and managing the different stressors.
The sessions can also…
There is a vicious circle with fertility treatment, where the process causes stress, which can have an effect on treatment. Seeing a counsellor or psychotherapist from the start can give you the space to talk about any emotions that come up throughout the process, address any stresses as they come up, and hopefully support you on your way to welcoming a new member of the family.
To book you first session with a counsellor or psychotherapist contact ICL on 0207 467 8548.