Finding out that you need help to conceive can feel daunting and is often suffered in silence. Friends, family and colleagues may not be sympathetic, and you and your partner may find the stress and anxiety interfere with your relationship. You may both have already gone through tests and investigations that intrude into the most private and intimate areas of your lives. You may have spent hours, weeks, or years waiting.
Taking some private time and space either individually or together with a trained counsellor is not about ‘not coping’. It is an opportunity to look at the issues in your lives that have been raised because of the situation you are now facing. You may need to express feelings of anger, grief, desperation, isolation and envy, to enable you to cope and continue with your everyday life. It is sometimes easier and feels safer if there is an understanding third party there with you. You might also want to share the various mix of emotions – excitement, joy, ambivalence, fears and relief – of successful treatment with someone outside of your immediate circle of family and friends.
Why is counselling important during fertility treatment?
As part of our ongoing patient care, counselling is routinely offered at any time before, during or after treatment. Even if you feel fine, you may find it useful to talk to somebody impartial about your situation.
Counselling during fertility treatment is important because:
It is essential when having fertility treatment using donated eggs or sperm: If you are using donated eggs or sperm in your fertility treatment, then implications counselling is a requirement so that you understand the emotional aspects, legal aspects and implications.
It gives you an active role in a process that often leaves you feeling frustratingly inactive: Counselling is confidential, friendly and tailored to your needs. It is not being told what to do, feel or think. You are not being judged or assessed. It can provide an important outlet for negative thoughts and emotions which you might find difficult to communicate to family and friends.
Routine counselling for all patients is supported by the HFEA: The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) considers fertility counselling to be a key element in the provision of fertility services for all patients.
Good mental health is linked to better treatment outcomes: It has been proven that the chances of success in fertility treatments are higher in patients with good mental health.
Anxiety has physical repercussions and can impact reproductive health, such as ovulation: It is estimated that women with high anxiety levels ovulate 20% less and are 30% less likely to conceive. High levels of stress and anxiety can also contribute to a 20% higher risk of miscarriage. If you are finding the process particularly stressful, there is no shame in seeking help.
It can help you process and understand difficult aspects of fertility treatment: Counselling can help you deal with aspects of the treatment process which can be distressing and emotionally challenging, such as facing a negative result, processing the implications of donor conception, or embarking on a fertility journey as a single parent if you choose to have fertility treatment alone.
Any information you disclose is confidential and will not be fed back to any other member of staff unless it causes concern about harm to yourself, others around you, or the welfare of the future child.
In these instances, the counsellor will always talk to you first to find the best way forward before informing a member of staff.
As part of their professional development, the BACP and BICA require that your counsellor is independently supervised. As such, they may share some information with their supervisor but this will be completely anonymous.
Booking a counselling session
How do I book a counselling session? If you are a registered patient, please contact your medical team by telephone, email or through our Patient Portal App to book a counselling session.
How much will it cost? One counselling session is included free of charge with each treatment cycle. If you require additional sessions, each additional session will cost £ 140.