One in four couples face infertility problems, according to the World Health Organisation’s statistics. Those who have been dealing with infertility know all too well that there are a multitude of variables that influence ones ability to conceive. Aspects ranging from sperm count, to ovulation disorders among other physical factors can determine whether a couple is able to reproduce.
Infertility elicits strong emotional responses such as depression, anger, anxiety and grief. It can lead to feelings of disconnection from others and a deep sense of personal distress. Infertility can become the focus of a couple’s life and sometimes results in feelings of failure and ineptitude. Intellectually, those struggling with infertility understand that it isn’t about personal failure, it is strictly a physiological issue, but with a subject as important and personal as reproduction, the emotional mind follows its own course. Pain leads the thought process in these situations. As the couple continues to strive toward creating a family, feelings of resentment can emerge as friends and acquaintances seem to become pregnant with minimal effort. News stories about the multitude of unwanted pregnancies and commercials relating to birth control and pregnancy tests become devastating, everyday reminders of the injustice of this condition.
What Is Infertility Counselling?
Infertility counselling can be a useful tool for individuals and couples. While the biological aspects of infertility may be the root cause of the problem, infertility counselling can help to navigate emotional aspects of the struggle. In addition to offering a safe place to process feelings, services offered through infertility counselling Melbourne can help develop coping strategies for managing the array of feelings that naturally stem from challenges with conception. Infertility counselling isn’t a cookie cutter approach; it takes into consideration your individual thoughts, feelings and needs. It is focused on your personal circumstances, your hopes, dreams and the emotions that inevitably surface as a result of ongoing fertility issues.
One of the most valuable aspects of participating in Infertility Counselling is the freedom to express a variety of feelings about it with an objective, compassionate and professionally trained therapist. Well-intentioned friends and loved ones offer care and support, but often miss the mark by trying to make the infertile couple feel better. Platitudes and trite, upbeat comments are offered in hopes of healing a deep wound that cannot be hugged or cheered away. While these loving gestures are treasured, it often fosters a deeper sense of separation that can lead to further isolation and feelings of despair.
Grief is another important element of infertility for which counseling can be helpful. Often we pigeon-hole grief as a reaction to the death of a loved one, but grief comes in many forms. Throughout our lives we hold onto and nurture ideas about what we want our futures to look like. Often many envision a future in which a family is central, alongside career, friendships and other aspirations. When faced with the possibility that a central part of that dream has been stolen due to fertility challenges, it is natural to grieve that loss and all of the hopes and feelings that were attached to it. The words “mother” and “father” are emotionally laden and hold so many deeper meanings than the biological factors they represent. The values that lie under the surface of those monikers reach deep within our individual experiences as well as our cultural tapestry. They speak to wisdom, tradition, love and legacy. When robbed of those crucial aspects of ones personal journey, is it any wonder that profound grief would ensue?
Infertility counselling can be a useful method of exploring a variety of emotional factors that arise when our basic right to reproduce is being suspended by biological causes. It is important to recognise the emotional toll that infertility takes and to honour those feelings by giving them a voice.
Who Benefits From Infertility Counselling?
Infertility counselling is beneficial to any individual or couple who has had challenges with conception. The technical definition of infertility is the inability to conceive after twelve consecutive months of unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility can, however, include those who have had several miscarriages and are unable to carry a pregnancy to term. In spite of these definitions, those struggling with conception may benefit from supportive counselling even without these associated timeframes and events. There is so much emotion involved in the monthly roller coaster that couples face as they try to conceive; it is a constant battle between hope and disappointment. The pressures that stem from this ongoing battle often contribute to relationship challenges. At the time the couple needs one another the most, feelings of frustration, sadness and grief that arise from infertility can drive a wedge between them. Additionally, infertility counselling can be a safe place to talk openly about the variance of emotional reactions that men and women experience. Often in situations like this, women tend to feel and express emotions about infertility more openly, and become disheartened when their partner does not seem to be as distressed. Infertility counselling can help couples better understand one another’s thoughts and feelings; it can be a good resource for exploring the difficult subjects that couples may not otherwise feel inclined to openly discuss. It can be a safe haven for couples to be angry, sad or process feelings of numbness and detachment.
It is important to remember that infertility does not need to be a life sentence that defines a couple. A myriad of feelings may arise during counselling, and this is a natural part of the healing process. Counselling offers an opportunity to move beyond feeling stuck and transition toward peace. Allowing oneself to be vulnerable enough to talk about these feelings with a stranger may feel quite risky. While not an easy journey, it is one that is well worth the time, effort and vulnerability.
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