by Tara Simpson, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist
Shady Grove Fertility Counseling Staff
Infertility is often one of the hardest obstacles most people have faced in their lives or relationship to date. The negative emotions, stress, and an overwhelming feeling of loss of control can often prevent those needing treatment to seek out or to continue with the very treatment they may need to overcome this obstacle. Here are five myths about seeking infertility counseling and five ways counseling may help you stay emotionally well throughout this process.
Infertility Counseling Myth #1: I already talk about my fertility struggles too much and that doesn’t seem to help.
While we can believe that we are repeatedly sharing our story of struggle, such as what treatment we are doing, shots we are taking, and/or the results of the latest tests, we often aren’t as candid with others about our true thoughts and feelings about these struggles. Therefore, while it feels like we are sharing a lot of facts, we aren’t actually processing the feelings (such as sadness, anger, and/or fear) that we may have about the process or outcomes of fertility treatment. Infertility counseling can be a safe and neutral place to discuss feelings and thoughts.
Infertility Counseling Myth #2: If I start really talking about my feelings and crying, I am afraid I will feel worse or my tears will never stop.
Contrary to what some believe, talking about how we feel doesn’t make us feel worse. We usually already feel really lousy; however, talking about how we feel allows us time to share as well as gain perspective. Infertility counseling can often provide new coping tools for how to deal with these feelings.
Infertility Counseling Myth #3: I should be able to handle this—I just need to relax and “get over it.”
But why should you be able to handle this? Infertility isn’t something that we are taught to expect. Fertility treatment is a very stressful process that impacts us as an individual and couple. It isn’t just something we are struggling with in the current moment but also something that threatens our dreams for the future. It can also cause us to focus on the past with the “what if?” and “if only” thought processes. Infertility counseling can help you stay focused on the present so that you can feel more in control, while at the same time accept the current state of flux that your life is in.
Infertility Counseling Myth #4: Other people have worse problems than me.
Sure. Some do. But this may be one of the toughest things you have had to face and it is difficult for you. Just because someone has seemingly worse things going on shouldn’t invalidate the stress and distress that you have. It can be helpful to be grateful for what we have in comparison to others who are burdened by more. However, it doesn’t help us to make ourselves feel worse simply because we judge our situation to be “less important.” The reality of infertility is that it can be stressful and it is essential to take care of yourself at this time.
Infertility Counseling Myth #5: The only thing that will make me happy is to get pregnant.
Well, absolutely. But we can learn to manage our emotions while we are on the journey. The purpose of talking to a qualified mental health professional who specializes in fertility issues is to help you cope with the process of fertility treatment. Our counselors will help you articulate the things you are worried about as well as help you make a plan for how you will endure while you are attempting to achieve that goal.
If you would like to learn more about our individual or couple’s psychological support services offered through Shady Grove Fertility or to sign up for a support group, please call 301-279-9030.
To schedule a new patient consultation at Shady Grove Fertility, please call 877-971-7755 or schedule an appointment online.