What is fertility counselling?
As fertility treatment is a complicated process, counselling is an opportunity for couples to discuss any emotional difficulties, fears and anxieties that they may experience during their journey in becoming parents. Fertility counselling enables couples to talk about their problems and feelings. It may also support couples in helping them to understand the process, especially during critical cycles, such as if IVF treatment has so far been unsuccessful, or in cases where it has worked and they are finding it difficult to adjust to their new lifestyle.
When would I visit a fertility counsellor?
Couples are most likely to seek fertility counselling:
- Before any IVF treatment begins - coping with infertility and learning about treatment options.
- Following unsuccessful IVF treatment – in cases where this has not yet worked, it is recommended to wait for a few months before trying again. This allows a break from the stress and to allow the body to recover.
- Adapting to parenthood.
Who can help with fertility counselling?
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Association (HFEA) was set up by legislation as an independent body who work on behalf of the government and considers fertility counselling as a key element of fertility services for all patients. The HFEA Act 1990 requires counselling to be offered to both partners before treatment starts.
Couples are entitled to have sessions with their partner, individually or in a group, which depends on the needs, treatment and referral made by the consultant. Many clinics have fertility counsellors and support groups for couples to talk to. The registered charity British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA), is the only professional association for infertility counsellors in the UK, which also helps couples find the right counsellor for them.
What causes infertility?
Fertility problems can affect both men and women. The most common causes of infertility in women include lack of regular ovulation, damaged fallopian tubes or endometriosis. In men, infertility is mostly caused by poor quality semen.
There are a number of factors that may also affect fertility in men and women, which include age, weight, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), smoking, alcohol and stress.
Why have fertility counselling?
Counsellors are professionals who are trained to help others cope with emotional issues. Infertility is known as a distressing experience for couples who are trying to plan a family. Sometimes, relatives and friends may not understand or know how to deal with the grief that couples may be experiencing. A fertility counsellor works with couples to help them to make sense of their life-changing situation.