Getting fertility counselling

Many people who have fertility problems or are having fertility treatments feel higher levels of stress. This is very common. Thankfully, help is available.

As well as getting support from your family and friends, it can be helpful to see a professional counsellor (like a psychologist or social worker) who has experience working with people dealing with infertility and fertility treatments. This person can help you manage the emotional stresses and decision-making challenges.

Counselling is even more important if you are thinking about treatments that involve a donor of sperm, egg(s), or embryos. The same applies if you are thinking about involving a surrogate mother.

How counselling can help you

If you need medical help to build your family, you may experience high levels of social, emotional, and relationship stress. These high levels of stress may affect many aspects of your life, as well as your success with getting pregnant.

Also, you must make complex decisions and choices along the way. What you decide can have an impact not only on you (and your spouse or partner), but also on any children born as a result of your decisions.

Counselling can help you to manage these stresses, and make informed and satisfying decisions. It may help you before, during, and after you undergo medical procedures, like when:

  • You need information about a certain kind of treatment, or information on parenting options and resources.
  • You must make a difficult decision about which path to take, or need to decide what approach is right for you.
  • You feel that your usual ways of coping with stress are not working.
  • Your relationship with important people in your life is being affected.
  • You lose a pregnancy or come to the end of a treatment cycle that did not succeed.
  • You are looking at choices for family building, like using donor sperm or eggs, a surrogate mother, or adoption.
  • You are wondering whether to become a donor or surrogate mother for others.
  • You need to bring closure to your efforts to create a family.

If you are thinking about genetic testing, you may want to consider getting genetic counselling.

A typical counselling session

A counsellor may:

  • explore what may be causing you to feel stress, and suggest ways to cope
  • review your understanding of the proposed options, including options that do not involve medical procedures, like adoption, being a foster parent, or child-free living
  • discuss the short- and long-term psychosocial impact of your decisions for you and any children you may have, especially if you are thinking about using an egg or sperm donor, in vitro embryos, or a surrogate mother
  • help you to communicate with others, including your care providers
  • suggest ways to deal with problems like depression, relationship concerns, or family stresses

Questions to ask when choosing a counsellor

  • Are you a member of a professional group that is regulated in my province or territory?
  • Do you have the knowledge, training, and skills to deal with infertility and fertility treatment issues?
  • What will it cost? Are any costs included in my fertility treatment costs? Is counselling covered by a private insurance plan or employee benefits?

How to find a counsellor

Some fertility clinics have counsellors on staff, or can provide you with a list of infertility counsellors in your area.

You can also check out these websites:

Other support resources

Your family doctor or fertility clinic can refer you to support groups in your community.

There are also many online resources that can connect you to the encouragement, resources, and support your need. Among them:

Also, you can buy books or borrow them from your local library.

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