Starting a family is an exciting time for most couples. However, one in six Australian couples experience infertility. It can be confronting and distressing to be told that you or your partner have a fertility issue that could prohibit you from becoming pregnant.
Infertility is diagnosed when a couple have tried unsuccessfully to conceive for twelve months. This time period can place enormous strain on both individuals and the couple. Individuals may feel a range of different emotions about their fertility issues, such as shame, disappointment, grief, worry, fear, and confusion about what options to try next. Some couples may have experienced pregnancy loss in their pursuit of a family and can feel further isolated in their grief by their infertility.
Seeing a fertility counsellor may assist in the journey by helping you to:
- Explore your treatment options;
- Acknowledge and process your grief and sense of loss- in your inability to conceive, confirming a diagnosis of infertility, impact of pregnancy loss;
- the loss of a dream;
- Learn coping strategies to use prior to or during a cycle and/or in the ‘waiting’ time of determining whether your cycle was successful;
- Enhance your communication skills with your partner to help keep you connected throughout this stressful time;
- Manage other people’s pregnancy announcements, their pregnancies, baby showers etc;
- Maintain and encouraging a sense of intimacy within your relationship to focus on enjoying each other, not simply focusing on achieving a pregnancy;
- Find confidence to talk to your work colleagues, friends and family about your infertility;
- Consider the implications of screening your embryos for genetic conditions and/or recurrent miscarriage;
- Consider the implications of using donor gametes (donor eggs or donor sperm), for yourself, your relationship, and any potential child(ren);
- Explore alternatives to Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) treatment to become a family such as foster care or adoption;
- Managing a pregnancy and the emotional rollercoaster this may bring (see Antenatal and Postnatal Depression/Anxiety).
www.varta.org.au – The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) have produced a fantastic resource for anyone experiencing infertility around emotional impacts, optimising reproductive health, managing ART treatment, exploring treatment options, egg and sperm donation and surrogacy.