Health and Counseling Services
Our practice understands that fertility and its treatment can be very stressful and emotionally difficult. We are proud to have fertility counselors available as resources to complement your infertility care at SRM.
Appointments can be made with a fertility counselor at the recommendation of a SRM physician, SRM nurse or self-referrals. Simply, call the SRM offices or make an appointment next time you are seeing your provider.
The counseling services are designed to:
- Help you cope with the stress of treatment and infertility problems
- Help you improve relationships and communication with family and friends
- Assess and strengthen your emotional health
- Facilitate and support your problem-solving and decision making
- Provide referrals to appropriate resources when needed
- Offer you safe and therapeutic small patient groups to meet others facing the challenges of trying to get pregnant.
- All patients considering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
- Short-term, outcome-focused therapy for couples or individuals
- After a failed ART (assisted reproductive technologies) cycle or recurrent pregnancy loss.
- When considering Therapeutic Donor Inseminations (TDI)
- Evaluation and problem identification for outside referral
- Ending treatment without an ongoing pregnancy or delivery
- Diagnosis of multiple pregnancy
- During or after a pregnancy achieved via third party donation
- During pregnancy after suffering a previous loss
How can infertility counseling help me?
Infertility affects every aspect of a woman's life. Wondering whether they will have a baby, deciding whether to start treatment, choosing when to stop unsuccessful treatments, living with the discomfort and precise timing of treatments, and coping with financial issues - not having health insurance, having insurance which pays only part of the cost, or having insurance which excludes infertility treatment - are just some of the problems. Infertility affects women's relationships and sex lives with their partners. Some treatments require many medical visits at specific times, affecting a women's ability to keep a job. Women may feel 'blamed' for their fertility problems by friends who comment 'if you would just relax/adopt/take a vacation or see my doctor, you would get pregnant'.
Even religious beliefs may be challenged; many infertile women have reportedly felt that for the first time in their lives, God has not answered their prayers.
A study in which a psychiatrist interviewed women before their first medical visits for infertility found that 40 out of every 100 had some type of mental health problem, mostly anxiety and depression, even before undergoing treatment. And most women who have unsuccessful ART procedures report symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger and isolation, which may be long lasting.
How distress affects fertility - and what you can do about it.
Most studies on how distress affects fertility have been done in women who are undergoing IVF treatments, and the results from the majority of the studies show that the more distressed infertility patients are prior to treatment, the less likely they are to get pregnant. In one study, women who reported the least distress on the day of their IVF egg retrieval were nearly twice as likely to become pregnant and give birth as women who were the most distressed. In another study, a nurse practitioner provided some women in an IVF program with detailed information about what to expect, accompanied them to treatments, and called them daily. These women were more than twice as likely to become pregnant as women without this high level of support.
If you are coping with infertility, what does all this mean for you? First of all, you can acknowledge that concern about fertility causes distress, but this does not mean you are to blame for not becoming pregnant. Discuss your feeling with your partner, family members, or friends. When friends offer unwanted advice, react in the way that is most comfortable for you. For instance, you can thank them for their concern but suggest that you have your own plans and would prefer not to discuss it any further.
If you are seeking or undergoing infertility treatments, get the information you need to feel in control of the process. Seek a program that offers support, counseling, and education throughout the process. If health insurance or local availability restricts your choice of programs, ask where counseling and education are available, or work with a support group.
Not becoming pregnant when you want to, coping with a diagnosis of infertility, and undergoing fertility treatments is stressful. Obtaining the support and resources to cope with this difficult situation can help you feel better and may even improve your chance of success.
To make an appointment with one of our fertility counselors to discuss the above issues, please call 206-301-5000 or schedule online.