Infertility Counseling | What Is Infertility?
Infertility is a reproductive health problem in which a couple is unable to conceive and get a child. It is a medically diagnosed condition whereby either a woman or her partner, or both, are found to have anomalies in their anatomy so that a woman cannot get pregnant and carry the embryo to term.
Natural issues such as a blocked fallopian tube, ovarian problems, and lifestyle factors such as excessive drinking are some of the common reasons for primary infertility. The couple may have tried to conceive and get a child for over a year to no avail (slightly over the human gestation period). Primary infertility comes with its share of distress on the woman, touching on all life facets, including family, the woman’s emotional state, and personality.
You may often be sad, face stigmatization by people close to you, and even start looking down upon yourself. The pain is inevitable for a couple desirous of getting pregnant and having a child and can be traumatic to the extent that it affects the life of a person negatively.
Infertility isn’t a definitive problem that denies an individual the honor of parenthood as there are several treatment options one can consider and solve the infertility issue potentially. Nonetheless, it is vital to get counsel from a professional how to cope as infertility may strain a family and cause depression.
Primary and Secondary Infertility — What’s the Difference?
Many people are unaware of the variance, but they’re two forms of infertility based on time of occurrence. Primary infertility is the predominant form whereby a woman has never been able to conceive and get a child previously in their lifetime.
Primary infertility is mostly associated with a natural cause such as an ovulation problem, which inhibits a woman’s ability to conceive. Nonetheless, the reasons are not always distinct, as in some cases, the cause of infertility is unclear.
Primary infertility is, by far, more devastating compared to the secondary form. Getting help through counseling is highly recommended to a couple for coping even as consultations are made with a doctor on the appropriate infertility clinical remedies to be embraced.
The second type of issue is secondary infertility. It is a form that develops after a person has gotten pregnant, had a child or several, and the subsequent attempts to have another child turning out to be unsuccessful. It may develop as a result of aging or poor lifestyle. The probability for infertility increases as a woman advance in age towards menopause.
Who Are Obstetrician Gynecologists?
Obstetrician gynecologists are trained professionals who specialize in female reproductive health and other related clinical aspects. Their specialty typically encompasses medical conditions such as STDs, infertility, cancers, and fibroids of the female reproductive system. They also handle various aspects that pertain to a woman, such as birth control, getting pregnant, menstruation, and menopause.
Medical Professionals Who Specialize in Infertility
Other than obstetrician gynecologists, there are other professionals who specialize in female body issues as pertains to a woman’s infertility.
- Reproductive endocrinologists
- Reproductive psychiatrists
- Fertility psychologists
A reproductive endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in women who’ve had multiple miscarriages.
Reproductive psychiatrists are trained professionals who typically specialize in female mental health. Being unable to get pregnant and carry the embryo to pregnancy term often foster depression in women, and the trauma can be unbearable. Reproductive psychiatrists play a vital role in helping affected women cope by bringing anxiety under control. Appropriate drugs may be administered to alleviate anxiety and foster mental calm.
Fertility psychologists are typically specialists who employ a therapeutic counsel approach to help a couple dealing with infertility issues. They specialize more in the psychological aspects of infertility, and they, therefore, help a couple to deal with the anxiety. A couple can quickly become depressed following diagnosis with infertility, and fertility psychologists help deal with the mental issues, among other secondary effects.
How Common Infertility Is
Studies conducted by the CDC on the American population show that approximately 6% of married women have been diagnosed by a doctor with infertility and cannot have a child naturally after a year of expectations. The data included both major and secondary cases.
Additionally, 12% of the women population experience significant difficulties with getting a child. The CDC’s findings also revealed that approximately 7.5% of sexually active American men had consulted an infertility doctor, with 18% of them diagnosed by a doctor with an infertility problem. Often, a woman is more likely to be diagnosed with infertility than her partner.
Can a Man Experience Infertility?
Infertility is not an issue that only affects a woman. A male partner can also experience infertility. Infertility in a man mostly occurs due to medical and lifestyle factors, or accidents that affect the normal production and quality of sperms. High BP, prostate cancer, and testicular surgery are some of the clinical factors contributing to infertility.
An individual who is an intense smoker and drinker risks becoming infertile. Accidents that result in testicular trauma may interfere with normal sperm production. There are other causes such as ejaculatory dysfunction, which is closely associated with low sperm count, and these are also common causes of infertility in a man. Other secondary factors affecting the man’s endocrine system, such as hormonal imbalance, can lead to infertility.
Causes of Infertility in Women
Depending on several factors affecting the body, a woman can be more susceptible to infertility than others. Causes of infertility in a woman can be categorized into several facets, which are medical, genetic, anatomical morphology, and lifestyle causes.
- Anatomical morphology
- Lifestyle causes
- Medical causes
Infertility causes that involve anatomical morphology are factors that inhibit the normal functioning of the female reproductive system. Such factors include blocked fallopian tubes, anovulation, and ovarian dysfunction. There are lifestyle trends that may affect ovulation, including excessive drinking, anorexia, and sedentary living. There are underlying health conditions that can cause infertility, inhibiting a woman’s potential to have a child, and these include ovarian cancer, fibroids of the uterus, polycystic ovary syndrome, and hormonal imbalances, among others.
Depending on the nature of the diagnosis, infertility can be treated, and a person will have chances to have a child. In other cases, getting pregnant to term is impossible and other approaches are recommended if the couple is specifically pursuing parenthood.
The fertility medical interventions often involve administering supplements and medication to help with hormonal imbalance, increase sperm count, and rectify any underlying issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Some of the prescribed drugs include Letrozole and Metformin.
Specific to the cause, a woman may take medication or undergo ovarian surgery, most especially those affected by anatomical morphology inconsistencies such as a blocked fallopian tube. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is another treatment approach that involves obtaining an egg and a sperm, fostering fertilization outside the woman’s body, and reinserting the fertilized egg inside the uterus for gestation. Intrauterine
Insemination, IUI, is another treatment process involving the insertion of sperm in the uterus, which allows the sperms to move up the fallopian tube where conception takes place. A couple who cannot get to achieve pregnancy with treatment methods can opt for non-treatment approaches, including surrogacy and adoption, when the case is beyond clinical help. Infertility counseling is also a crucial part of treatment as it enables a couple to maintain harmony and peace of mind as they undergo clinical help.
Difference Between IVF and IUI
Both medication procedures are typically conducted to facilitate fertilization. The major difference lies in how IUI and IVF are conducted. IVF procedures involve obtaining both the sperm and egg from the involved couple, and the fertilization takes place outside the woman.
Once the embryo starts forming, it is inserted inside the woman for gestation. IUI procedures, on the other hand, involve obtaining the sex cells of a man that are inserted inside the woman. The objective is to reduce the distance the sperms will take to reach the egg, and conception takes place in the fallopian tube.
IUI is the cheaper and riskier of the two because most of the process is conducted inside the body of the woman. However, some challenges typically come with IVF as the success of the procedure is pegged on whether the woman’s system will accept the embryo and complete the pregnancy period.
What Is Infertility Counseling?
Once a diagnosis is made, the news of infertility often comes with great devastation and brokenness, knowing that the couple is unable to carry a child conceived naturally. The social pressure that comes with it is also disheartening, as friends and relatives express their concern regarding getting a child. The pain can be overwhelming for the woman and her partner to the extent of initiating depression and jeopardizing the family relationship.
Infertility counseling is of immeasurable benefit to a couple with any reproductive fertility issue, as it enables both the man and woman to cope with the depression that follows, especially for the woman. It is conducted by trained a counselor with a specialty in infertility issues.
The sessions are tailored by a counselor to specifically help a couple come to terms with the fertility issue, fight negative emotion, walk through the traumatic experience, and how to strengthen their family even as they consider appropriate infertility treatments available for them.
Goal and Purpose of an Infertility Counselor
Though infertility counseling is not a medication treatment option for the fertility issue, the counsel plays a pivotal role in keeping the family together and taking the couple through to the treatment phase where applicable.
The primary objective of infertility counseling is to assess the emotional and mental state of the couple and the state of their relationship following the infertility diagnosis. With a comprehensive assessment, the counselor gives counsel to the couple on appropriate coping strategies that will specifically manage anxiety and encourage a healthy family for the couple.
Approaches Used in Infertility Counseling
Depending on the state and specific circumstances of a couple, a counselor may opt for a particular counsel approach than the other. There are three major counsel approaches to infertility counseling, and these are:
- Emotions-focused counsel
- Solutions-based counsel
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
Infertility is often associated with emotional turmoil, and, therefore, a counselor prefers emotion-focused therapy tailored to address the couple’s emotions. It is designed to help the woman and her partner come to terms and deal with depression and promoting good mental health.
On the other hand, solutions-based therapy is a counsel approach that guides a couple on how to cope and find appropriate treatment options suitable for them. Oftentimes, a counselor may combine this approach with emotional-based therapy based on the couple’s emotional state.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an infertility therapy approach that focuses more on anxiety and mental health. Infertility can bring about negative thought patterns that can sabotage the healthy living of the woman. Therefore this counsel approach is specifically purposed to help the couple deal with negative thoughts and promote healthy thinking despite the fertility issue. It enables a couple not to point fingers at each other, but to be more optimistic in considering other avenues through which they can have a child as per consultations with a doctor.
Alternative Ways to Cope With Infertility
There are other less popular approaches as opposed to medical help used in coping with infertility. One of the alternatives a woman and the partner can go for is hypnosis. Nonetheless, getting counsel from a trained professional such as a counselor is highly recommended.
Qualities of a Good Infertility Counselor
Besides being a licensed marriage and family therapist or psychologist, a good infertility counselor should possess the following attributes:
- Empathetic to their patients
- Welcoming and friendly
- Patient with their clients
- Ethical and trustworthy
A good counselor should be empathetic to their patients to understand the pain and depression the couple is facing. Friendliness and being welcoming is a major character a counselor should possess, as it enables patients to feel at ease during sessions and be more willing to open up. A counselor also ought to have good professional ethics, which translates to their competence and trustworthiness even as they help patients.
The bottom line, you should pick a counselor whom you feel at ease talking to even as you obtain counsel. An individual can check the reputation of the counselor based on feedback reports by previous patients.