Infertility is a very sensitive condition that can affect your perspective on life, self-image, and relationship with others. But how you cope with the feeling depends on your personality or life experiences. Most people usually consider fertility counseling or support from family and friends to deal with infertility.
Either way, fertility counseling helps couples facing infertility issues cope with challenges like emotional stress and pressure from family and friends. Also, the fertility counselor might suggest options like adoption and surrogacy and help you navigate the emotions that come with that.
This article will cover fertility counseling, the causes of infertility, and what you can do to manage it. Besides, the guide reveals the infertility challenges that couples face in society and how to deal with them.
So, let’s get started.
What Does Fertility Counseling Mean?
Fertility counseling is where couples can discuss their emotional fears in their parental journey. Besides, it allows them to talk about relationship problems and feelings. This may also include infertility counseling for those having infertility issues.
Why Will You Need Fertility Counseling?
There are many reasons you may need fertility counseling. Some of those include the following;
1. Relationship Counseling
Infertility can be a huge stressor in a relationship, mostly when partners start to blame each other. In that case, fertility counseling comes in handy to help speak out the worries of both partners. Besides, couples face concerns when on fertility treatments because they cope with tight medical schedules and side effects. This increases the need for fertility counseling to help cope with an infertility diagnosis.
2. Coping Skills
Fertility counseling instills coping skills such as
- Accepting the emotions when they come by reminding yourself that there is no good or wrong way to deal with fertility issues.
- Taking care of your physical health despite your struggles. You can avoid this by taking medication or doing any activity promoting self-care.
- Accepting self-deprecating behaviors to avoid self-blame habits.
3. Managing Anxiety & Stress
Family and friends can be a great way to offer you good advice and support when having fertility stress. However, they may lack the right tool to give you advice. Even so, some people or couples decide to keep their emotions a secret since they fear burdening others with their struggles.
Luckily, fertility counseling can be a good way to deal with this. Fertility counselors are a good space for couples to share their emotions and get advice on how to move on coping with their situations.
4. When You Want to Adopt
The most crucial time when a couple or a person may need fertility counseling is when planning to adopt or to have third-party reproduction. This is because the emotional consequences of making these choices are intense, although underestimated. In adoption fertility counseling, a counselor will help you with the following.
- Clarify to you the reason why you are making an adoption or surrogacy choice
- Confirm that this choice is a joint decision
- Advise you whether to tell your friends or family members about the decision
- Talk to you about the donation effect on your relationship with your donor
- Discuss with you the factors to look for in a donor or surrogate
- Talk to you when and how to tell the resulting child about the identity
5. When You Are Not Sure What to Do
Fertility counseling also comes in handy for couples who don’t know how to handle fertility challenges. The family therapists or counselors can help a couple make a good choice and consider treatment options such as taking Vitro fertilization and the outcomes of the choice.
6. When You Are Considering a Child-Free Life
Infertile patients may try all available infertility treatments or options and realize that there are no outcomes. This can be extremely hard to accept, but fertility counseling may help to cope with the situation. For instance, an infertility counselor can encourage the couple to live a child-free life and how best to come to terms with that.
7. Additional Support
Individuals may not feel depressed and anxious but need more support about their fertility challenges. In such a case, an infertility counselor can be a good choice and may help you deal with any fertility issues.
What Causes Infertility
Infertility occurs in both females and males. Thus, the factors causing the situation may vary with gender type as follows.
Infertility in Women
In women, infertility is mainly caused by ovulation problems, but other issues that can cause infertility include.
- Poor egg quality: The egg quality in women can interfere with conception. Eggs with genetic abnormalities cannot sustain a pregnancy.
- Surgery: Pelvic surgeries can cause damage to the fallopian tubes.
- Fibroids: These are non-cancerous growths that can grow in the womb. They affect fertilization by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching in the womb or blocking the fallopian tube.
- Chronic conditions: Some conditions like cancer and AIDS can also cause infertility.
- Endometriosis: Occurs when the cells found in the uterus lining start to grow anywhere else in the body.
Infertility in Men
The distinct causes of infertility in men include
- Ejaculation disorders: Occur when ejaculatory ducts get blocked. Therefore, no semen makes it to the egg.
- Hormonal imbalance: When male hormones are not well balanced, it can lead to infertility.
- Genetic disorder: This condition causes low sperm count and testosterone, leading to infertility.
- Medicine and drugs: Some medications, like steroids, reduce sperm mobility, thus causing infertility.
- Mumps: This condition causes low sperm production.
Other factors that cause infertility in both men and women are smoking and age. Moreover, radiation, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and cancer chemotherapy can cause infertility. Apart from that, obesity, stress, nutrition, and alcohol may also contribute to infertility.
Infertility Related Challenges
- Relationship Tension
A major problem a couple with infertility faces is relationship issues. The comparisons and blame make it difficult for a couple to accept each other. Also, a couple may experience pressure from their relatives and friends, causing depression.
- Lack of Awareness
Most couples try to solve their infertility challenges without knowing the scientific reason. Thus, this makes them lack awareness about fertility treatments. A couple also faces confusion when it comes to fertility treatments. Thus, due to unawareness, they end up seeking counseling services from local counselors that are unlikely to help.
- Communication Issues
In a relationship, it is necessary to have good and healthy communication between the partners. Communication involves the freedom of expression, listening, being non-judgemental, and acceptance. So, having a good communication environment is essential.
However, a couple experiencing infertility may lack good communication. For that reason, one of the partners may end up depressed as they don’t have the freedom to express what they feel or go through.
- Strained Familial Relationships
Today the infertility issue has become more of a social problem than a biological issue. Hence, couples facing infertility must be ready to deal with questions and blame from extended family members. Also, they might be subjected to disharmony, stigma, discrimination, and even physical or emotional abuse.
With these atrocities, facing society and remaining strong becomes the most challenging thing a couple can experience, especially the female. Even though infertility in males is real, females face many questions from their in-laws about infertility treatments.
- Physical Intimacy Issues
If a couple has anxiety and emotional stress due to the lack of children, it affects the sexual relationship. In turn, this affects their marital lifetime and joy.
- Not Ready to Go for Infertility Treatment
Unlike women, many men may refuse to undergo infertility medical checks. Remember that a family therapist cannot treat a couple unless a reasonable investigation is done to determine the cause of the fertility problems.
So, if one person is unwilling to have treatments, it causes challenging discussions among the couples about the next steps. Also, it can lead to constant disagreements and even worse domestic flights.
How to Deal With Infertility Challenges
As discussed above, infertile couples face several challenges. Thus, such challenges can be difficult to deal with, hence the need to seek help from infertility counselors. In this case, a therapist will help you know how to support each other and communicate with your partner to see the way forward.
Most couples who can’t sire children become victims of negative comments. Also, they face family and societal pressure, as well as emotional harassment. These adverse situations and pressuring environments are not new to them.
However, coping with them and having a positive attitude cannot be easy. Similarly, avoiding such circumstances is very challenging. But, that can be well managed by some mindset changes and positive attitudes. For instance, the following tips can help you cope with infertility.
- Communication With Your Spouse
The first thing to have a healthy relationship is good communication. Talking to your spouse and listening to each other’s views is good. This can be done without a pre-judgment attitude in order to help each other know the way forward.
In such a case, it is okay for each spouse to have different perspectives or views. However, a couple must have empathy during communication. This will help the couple listen to or understand each other without bias.
- Support Each Other
Supporting each other also helps in dealing with infertility problems. This allows you to know that you are not alone in the issue. Remember that even your spouse is also going through the same. Your partner also finds it difficult to accept and deal with the situation. Therefore, you should support each other through thick and thin.
- Seek Medical Guidance
In most people, the lack of children may affect daily life. For that reason, people who are going through the situation need to seek professional help. They can see a marriage and family therapist. This way, they can eliminate this taboo and cope with the challenge.
For instance, the therapist examines the couple and tries to find the proper treatment. That way, the couple will be physically and emotionally ready for the treatment.
- Plan It Out With Your Spouse
Infertility brings disagreements and a sense of confusion. These emotions are normal, provided the couple plans to deal with them. For example, the couple can cope with them by willing to talk to each other about the problem. This can help them live in peace without any disagreements.
- Spend Quality Time With Your Partner
Although every person may be busy, taking some of your time and being with each other for some moments may bring positive changes. You can spend time doing things you both like, like having a meal together or going for a short outing. Also, taking a day off from your busy schedule and finding small happiness together will make the infertility journey stress-free.
- Support Groups
Support groups such as the Mental Health Professional Group (MHPG) can help to cope with infertility issues. Thus, you can look for such special support around you through infertility counseling services.
How to Treat Infertility Challenges
Treatment carried out to help an individual conceive naturally depends on many factors. These factors include personal preference, general body health, the length of infertility, and the person’s age.
Altogether infertility is treatable with medical therapies. For instance, here are some of the ways you can apply.
- Frequent Intercourse
Frequent intercourse is the first strategy used by a couple struggling with infertility. Such a couple is advised to have intercourse more frequently, especially during ovulation. However, if the couple is dealing with ovulation cycle problems, they are advised to seek therapist guidance.
- Other Types of Medical Treatment
Having frequent intercourse maybe not be effective in helping a couple conceive. Therefore, one may be advised to seek medical treatments depending on the cause of infertility. For instance, in males, medication can treat erectile dysfunction. Also, surgeries like varicose vein removal are effective.
In females, treatments include fertility drugs to help induce ovulation. Other than that, surgical repairs are done in cases of blocked fallopian tubes to make egg passage easier. Also, one may be advised to go through IVF treatment.
- Assisted Reproduction
The following methods can be used for artificial conception.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): During ovulation, the doctor inserts a catheter into the uterus in order to place a sample of sperm into the uterus to help get pregnant.
Egg donation: Some people may prefer egg donation. The fertility treatment using the donor eggs is usually done using the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment.
Sperm donation: If necessary, one can also use sperm from sperm donors to achieve pregnancy. Sperm donors are sperm from unknown persons and are inseminated in a female for pregnancy purposes and are done by specially trained doctors.
Surgical sperm: In this process, the sperm is removed from the male reproduction parts. After that, a specially trained doctor uses IVF treatment to fertilize a female egg.
What Are Some of the Risks of Fertility Drugs?
Despite being effective, fertility drugs can cause side effects, such as long-term ovarian tumors. This usually happens to women taking these drugs for more than 12 months without any results.
Moreover, the drugs can cause ectopic pregnancy and multiple pregnancies. Other risks are stomach pains, breathing problems, and enlarged ovaries.
How to Prevent Infertility Issues
There are many in which both females and males can use to prevent infertility issues. The main ways include
- Maintaining a Good Body Weight
Overweight women are at a higher risk of getting ovulation disorders than those with a healthy weight. Ovulation disorders usually prevent the monthly egg release causing infertility. Thus women should exercise regularly to help reduce excess weight hence preventing infertility.
- Avoiding Smoking
Tobacco has many adverse effects on infertility. It’s good to know that smoking affects female hormone production and the genetic material found in eggs. Thus, females who are planning to have a child must stop smoking.
- Reducing Emotional Stress
High-stress levels increase the production of the enzyme alpha-amylase, reducing the chances of a female getting pregnant. To minimize stress, females can consume medication or seek help from mental health professionals.
- Avoiding Alcohol
Intake of alcohol may decrease fertility in females. Therefore, those who plan to have a child must avoid alcohol.
Indeed fertility counseling is vital in helping people deal with infertility issues. Apart from that, fertility counseling can also help you deal with anxiety and emotional stresses from your parental life.
Moreover, many factors cause infertility, like smoking, excess body weight, and stress, especially in women. However, consulting a therapist can also direct you to medical treatments like assisted reproduction through egg donation, IUI, and sperm donation.
If you decide to use fertility drugs, know that they can cause risks such as long-term ovarian tumors, especially when one takes the drugs for a long time without any results. Also, reproductive medicine can cause ectopic pregnancy, stomach pains, and enlarged ovaries.