Considering its Mental Health Awareness Week, I wanted this weeks blog to focus on and address the emotional toll that infertility and IVF treatments can take on individuals and couples, and our mental health in particular in so many ways.
Someone I admire in the IVF community, recently reflected on her own journey and said how much she regretted not seeking counseling during her struggle to conceive. So it got me thinking and I wanted to explore the importance of prioritising our emotional wellbeing throughout the IVF process and how counseling can provide the necessary support we might all need during this process.
Its true to be said that IVF is a true emotional rollercoaster, the trying to conceive through fertility treatment is often described by almost everyone who endures it in this way. There is a constant cycle of emotions, ranging from fear and sadness to hope and anticipation, all which can be incredibly overwhelming. It's crucial to acknowledge the impact these experiences can have on our mental health and wellbeing.
The limitations of relying solely on our loved ones, can have a profound effect on both us and them. While partners and friends can offer comfort and support, they may not possess the expertise needed to navigate the complex emotional landscape of infertility. Moreover, they may also be dealing with their own emotions related to the process. Seeking additional professional support is essential for a comprehensive approach to taking care of our mental health during this process.
There are huge benefits of IVF counseling. given the studies which show that failed IVF cycles can lead to depression and poor mental health. Even successful treatments can trigger anxiety and depression in the months and years that follow, I know from my own experience this to be true. Counseling provides a valuable outlet for expressing emotions, managing those emotions, the sadness and fears, and developing coping mechanisms or vital tools that allow you to navigate your way through the rollercoaster ride.
There are various resources available for individuals seeking infertility counseling:
Counselling with Your Fertility Clinic: Many clinics now recognise the significance of counseling and offer these services either for free or at a fee. Some clinics also organise support groups, creating a supportive community. Its worth checking out what your clinic offers when you are considering your clinic of choice for your treatment.
NHS Counselling: In the UK, if you are undergoing NHS-funded fertility treatment, counseling services will be offered to you. Even if you opt for private IVF, it's worth speaking to your GP to explore counseling options available through the NHS.
Private Counsellors: Seeking a private counsellor with expertise in infertility is another option. Organisations like the British Infertility Counselling Association provide directories of specialised professionals who can offer compassionate and experienced support.
HIMFertility Campaign: Men can also experience emotional distress during fertility treatments. The HIMFertility Campaign provides resources specifically tailored to support men through the challenges and emotions related to infertility, something I only recently discovered but I feel is super important, since men often get forgotten about during this process and they go through it too, maybe not physically but emotionally.
I would also personally highly recommend support groups specific for Infertility, for me I found great comfort and support from such said groups when on my own journey. Sometimes, connecting with others who are going through similar struggles can be immensely comforting. Various organisations offer support groups where individuals can share their experiences and find solace, here are a few I would recommend taking a look at.
- Fertility Network UK: The leading UK charity providing support for those dealing with infertility.
- The Daisy Network: A support network for women who have experienced premature menopause.
- Endometriosis UK: Connect with other women suffering from endometriosis, which can impact fertility.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. You and your partner deserve support and understanding throughout the IVF process. Seeking counseling can significantly improve your mental health, reduce stress, and help you navigate the challenges with resilience.
As we raise awareness for mental health, it's essential to recognise the emotional strain individuals face during IVF treatments. Don't hesitate to reach out for counseling and support—remember, there are resources available to help you through this difficult time. You deserve kindness, compassion, and professional guidance as you work towards your dreams of parenthood.