Lauren Morton, LCSW
Experiencing infertility can be emotionally, physically and financially draining. It is devastating to long for a baby and be unable to conceive. What you expect to be a natural and exciting journey can become a painful and overwhelming life crisis. The disappointment month after month can feel unbearable. Anxiety, anger, grief, and sadness can overcome you and negatively impact your relationships with your partner, friends, and family. With compassion and understanding, I provide women and couples support as they make complex treatment decisions, struggle through invasive fertility procedures, and grieve the loss of the reproductive experience they imagined. Collaboratively, we will work to alleviate the sadness and worry and to develop effective coping strategies to deal with the emotional pain. Whether you are just starting down the path of fertility treatments or have been trudging down this road for years, counseling is a positive step in taking care of yourself during this inherently stressful time.
There are a variety of reasons to seek out an infertility counselor. Some of the more common reasons are listed below:
Reason #1 When Infertility Consumes You
Experiencing infertility can monopolize your thought process and the desire to conceive can be all consuming. Having a baby may be the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing on your mind as you lay in bed at night. You may have difficulty concentrating at work, be tearful, hopeless, anxious, and sad. Infertility can be an assault to your confidence, self-esteem, and sense of control. It may seem like everyone around you is pregnant and you may find yourself avoiding certain people, places or events. There may be countless appointments for testing and treatment and the financial burden of assisted reproductive technology can make the pursuit of a family more stressful than you ever imagined. Counseling can provide support and assist you in managing the multitude of emotions that arise when you encounter unexpected barriers to starting a family.
Reason #2 Infertility is Hurting your Relationship
Infertility may be one of the biggest challenges a couple ever faces, and it is not uncommon for their to be increased frustration, guilt, sadness, and distance in the relationship. Infertility can also negatively affect a couple’s sexual relationship as this intimate act becomes subject to medical scrutiny and forced schedules. Infertility is difficult, but it is significantly more difficult without the support of a partner or spouse. Counseling can help you and your partner better communicate and best support one another.
Reason # 3 You are Uncertain What to Do
Working with a therapist can help you make truly informed choices about your treatment options. Using third party reproduction such as the use of donor eggs, donor sperm, or surrogacy or considering adoption to create a family are difficult choices to make and should be fully processed, discussed and explored.
Reason # 4 When Considering a Child-free Life
When individuals who have struggled with infertility realize that they will have a life without children, there is a process of grieving that takes place. The anguish is unparalleled as they redefine their hopes for the future and renounce their dream of starting a family. For many who will be living child-free, counseling can help to process the painful emotions they may experience.
Reason #5 You Would Like More Support
It may be difficult to know whether your emotional response to the pain and frustration of infertility are within a normal range or are excessive and problematic. Please know that you do not need to feel extremely depressed or anxious to receive counseling. It can be helpful if you would like more support, someone to talk to, or would like additional tools for coping with the stress of your experience.
For more information about infertility please visit the following:
RESOLVE, The National Infertility Organization resolve.org
ASRM, The American Society for Reproductive Medicine asrm.org