- Have you recently learned that you or your partner might be infertile, and now feel overwhelmed by decisions about treatments, egg or sperm donation, surrogacy, adoption and more?
- Do you need support and guidance from an infertility therapist as you go through the process of fertility treatments, such as IVF and IUI?
- After trying everything to conceive, do you feel increasingly hopeless and worried about the future of your family?
- Do you feel isolated and alone as you mourn the loss of a pregnancy?
- Are you grieving the life you once envisioned for yourself and your family?
- Do you wish you could talk to someone who understands what you’re going through and can help you navigate the road ahead?
If you’ve encountered complications while trying to conceive and start a family, you may be feeling stuck, isolated and unsure how to manage a rush of conflicting thoughts and emotions. You might be so focused on the next step—the next appointment or procedure—that you have little time to address the distressing feelings below the surface. Alternately, you might feel consumed by sadness, regret, resentment, shame, anger and fear, and you don’t know how to regain balance and sustain faith in your dream of parenthood. If you are grieving a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a failed round of treatment, you may wonder if you (and your partner) can keep going through this devastating loss. Or, perhaps you have not yet found the space you need to grieve.
Perhaps you are single, and feel that no one understands how much you long to be a parent. Or, maybe you are in a partnership, and ongoing struggles to conceive have created distance and tension in your relationship. You might both feel helpless and unsure how to validate and support one another, especially if only one of you is going through ongoing infertility treatment, medical examinations and procedures. You may not know how much to tell friends and family members, especially if you feel overwhelmed by unsolicited advice and insensitive commentary about your body and relationship. Over time, this can lead to greater social isolation and less support. Experiencing infertility is psychologically distressing in many different ways.
There Are Many Different Ways to Build a Family
Many of us grow up believing that, once we’re ready, we’ll be able to have a healthy child. As we dream about our futures, few of us expect or imagine confronting fertility challenges or pregnancy loss. If you are experiencing infertility, you likely feel utterly alone, especially if your friends and loved ones seem to be having children with ease. However lonely, frustrated or broken you feel, you are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 percent of women have difficulty conceiving or carrying a child to term. And, in 35 percent of infertile couples, a male partner contributed to infertility. All types of couples experience infertility and it’s no one’s fault.
Of course, knowing these statistics may not make coping with infertility any easier. Regardless of your particular situation—whether you are weighing your options, years into fertility treatments or beginning the adoption process—your feelings are valid. But, if you are carrying intense shame or guilt, blaming yourself or your partner, avoiding your emotions or finding that your emotions interrupt your ability to move through the day, it may be time to seek help. An infertility therapist can help you grieve, regain a sense of possibility and feel equipped to make the right decisions for yourself and your family.
Individual & Couples Counseling for Coping with Pregnancy Loss
Couples experiencing infertility may also experience a miscarriage or pregnancy loss. It can be devastating to lose a pregnancy and the hopes and dreams you had for that child and your family. A miscarriage or pregnancy loss is incredibly painful and partners may grieve in different ways. It’s normal to experience a roller coaster of emotions as you are grieving as well as numbness or denial Some people reach out more for connection and support while others may focus on problem solving or taking action. There is no right way to grieve.
Couples and families that experience a pregnancy loss often need time to heal before pursuing family building again. Some may decide to step away from family building. Other couples may find themselves at different stages of healing or readiness, which can create conflict in the relationship. It’s natural to be at different stages in the grief process. Emotions are raw after experiencing a loss, which can leave couples more vulnerable to stress and disagreements. Couples counseling can help you cope together and find ways to support and understand one another as you grieve and move forward together as a family.
Infertility Counseling Can Provide You With Guidance, Support, Hope and Direction
Therapy offers you a safe space to process and openly express your experience without dodging painful misconceptions and judgments. By working with a therapist who truly understands infertility and a wide range of related family planning issues, you can find solace and acceptance. As you work through the emotions and questions that brought you into therapy, you can feel secure and understood as you sit with grief, loss and trauma. You’ll also have the compassionate space to air out and work through any thoughts and feelings you’ve kept buried. You can create room for healing.
Grief and loss can change your thinking patterns before you even realize it. Suffering can make you fearful of more suffering, triggering looping
thoughts about everything that can go wrong. Focusing on the worst-case scenario can make it difficult to see other options in front of you. Whether you come to sessions alone or with your partner, your infertility therapist can teach you effective tools and strategies for coping with anxiety, depression, communication issues and more. For example, if you are struggling with hormones and physical wounds, your therapist can guide you through soothing mind-body exercises, helping you reconnect with your body and find balance in the present moment. You can shift out of negative beliefs and discover new ways of thinking about the challenges you’re facing. With increased awareness and self-compassion, you can see your future more clearly.
Counseling Can Help You Explore Family Planning Options & Make Choices for Your Family
Are you seeking a way to gain clarity about family building, your next steps or to claim a sense of agency over your future? An objective, experienced counselor can help you better understand what you want and need, as well as explore family planning options that feel right for you. You can voice worries and confusion without fear of judgment and work through fears you have about taking an “alternate” route to parenthood. Each alternate parenting route comes with it’s own unique set of worries and concerns.
There are the emotional and financial costs of infertility treatments, deciding on closed or open adoption, understanding the genetic, biological and psychological implications of using an egg or sperm donor or donated embryo, or choosing not to have children. Each decision is complex and unique to your family’s needs. A therapist can’t tell you what to do, but can help you evaluate your priorities and move forward in making the best decision for your family.
And, because fertility treatments, surrogacy, egg and sperm donors, embryo donation, adoption and more can be emotionally draining and time consuming, your therapist can offer you valuable self-care strategies. You can find ways to nurture yourself, foster fulfilling relationships, focus on career pursuits and otherwise build your life, even while you pursue parenthood.
Even though your future may look different than you imagined, you don’t have to give up on happiness. There’s no right or wrong way to build a family. With guidance and support, you can feel empowered to create and nurture yours.
You may have questions or concerns about infertility counseling…
I’m afraid that talking about infertility will be overwhelming.
Although it might seem unbearably painful, grieving infertility is essential. And, talking about infertility makes it more manageable. When we hold things in, they grow and grow, taking over every aspect of our lives. Talking about difficult emotions is like releasing a pressure valve and letting all of the built up pain, regret and fear lift away. Once you let your feelings out, you can find relief. Talking with an infertility therapist is a safe experience, because they understand what you are going through.
Infertility counseling can’t help me have a child.
It’s true that your therapist can’t “fix” everything. Infertility is a reality, and we would never undermine the physical, medical and logistical challenges you’re experiencing. Instead, we want to assure you that you don’t have to face those challenges alone. You are valuable and worthwhile, and you deserve support. We can help you cope, feel better and trust that you have an ally on your side. And, we can offer clarity and pathways to tangible solutions. The psychological impact of infertility can be profound. You deserve to have a partner to help you cope.
I don’t have time for therapy.
We understand how overwhelming it can be to manage your schedule, especially when you are visiting multiple health providers, researching options and managing day-to-day life. But, we also know that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Whether you are trying to conceive or preparing for adoption, you are likely facing a great deal of uncertainty. In therapy, you can create a supportive, reliable therapeutic relationship with someone who understands your history, needs and hopes. You don’t have to come into therapy every week or every month. Your therapist can simply serve as a touchstone, there to support you when things get hard. Counseling shouldn’t feel like another thing you “need to do.” This is about you, your self-care and what you need to feel like a whole person. You are worth that time.
If it’s more convenient for you, you can also opt for online therapy sessions from the comfort of your home or office with any of our infertility counselors.
You Aren’t Alone
We invite you to call Eddins Counseling Group at 832-559-2622 or contact us for more information about infertility counseling and our therapy practice in Houston, TX.
Additional Infertility Support Resources
This is a list of infertility related books and resources covering different aspects of infertility such as coping with infertility, using and egg donor, discussing infertility related topics with children, coping with miscarriage and loss, parenting at an older age.
Here is a discussion of infertility Rachel had with Blog Talk Radio: coping with infertility.