26 Jun Infertility Counseling
What is Infertility?
Infertility is a pregnancy related concern faced by couples. It is an inability to conceive after 12 to 18 months of trying to become pregnant. This can be a problem in both men and women due to many factors. Infertility is categorized into two kinds; primary and secondary. Primary infertility is more common where in couples are not able to get pregnant at all or unable to carry child to the full term. Secondary fertility refers to when couples are able to conceive the first time, however are unable to conceive after the first child. This kind is less common but equally distressing.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the infertility rates have stayed the course since 1990 to 2010, as per a study that compiled data from 277 national surveys in 190 countries. Researches by the WHO estimates 48.5 million couples worldwide have had problems with conception. 1.9 percent of women between the ages of 20 to 44 were unable to give birth to their first child and 10.5 percent who had previously given birth were unable to conceive a baby after 5 years of trying. The second statistic shows us cases of secondary infertility.
- What are the possible causes of infertility?
Most people consider women to be the infertile partner; that is untrue! As previously mentioned, infertility could occur in both men and women; however, it is most negatively linked to older parentage that is the older the parents are, the more likely infertility will occur. Men are at a risk of infertility typically due to reduced production of sperms which could be because of testicular or ejaculatory dysfunction, trauma to the testes, varicoceles (a condition that occurs when large or oversized testicular veins overheat, altering the number or shape of a man’s sperm). In women, a similar dysfunction in the reproductive organs could be a result of infertility. The most common ones are failure to release an egg via ovulation due to hormonal imbalances, a damaged fallopian tube or uterus.
In addition, there are causes that are common to both genders, such as alcohol or drug abuse, physical injury to reproductive parts, smoking excessively, chronic illnesses like obesity, diabetes, cancers and heart conditions, unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyle, too much of stress and burnout, excessively tight clothing in men, PCOS in women and not forgetting any genetic infertility issues. One is more likely to be infertile if it runs in the family. The causes for it as well as the intensity of the problem differ from every person to person. Singling out only one factor will not be enough to understand what leads to infertility.
- How can you identify if you are infertile?
In women, signs of infertility can be identified through abdominal pains, irregular menstrual cycles (periods), also painful periods or no period at all. There could be other physical changes as well including weight loss/gain, changes in sex drive, darkening of lips, chest, chin, and thinning of hair etc. Many other things can be related to infertility in women, and their symptoms vary.
In men, infertility could sometimes go unnoticed, however there can be changes in the body especially pain or lumps in the reproductive areas, change of hair growth, reduced sexual drives, problems with ejaculation etc. Other than individual issues a person may face, the above mentioned causes are a big indicator to problems of fertility such as alcoholism, drug use etc. Awareness about one’s habits and stresses faced could majorly help identify and cope with the concern.
- What are the treatment options?
A variety of treatment options are provided to couples going through a difficult patch of infertility. Medical sciences have come a long way to provide for such problems. Some of the treatment options are as follows:
- Artificial Insemination: procedure where a sperm is placed directly into the woman’s vagina. Sometimes the sperm could be from an anonymous donor as well.
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF): a process in which the ova from the woman are fertilized with the male sperm in a laboratory and inserted back into the vagina for conception.
- Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT): procedure in which egg and sperm are directly placed into the fallopian tube of the woman.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): a procedure that involves placing a man’s sperm inside a woman’s uterus, so they can travel through her fallopian tubes and become fertilized.
- Surrogacy: it involves a woman who carries the child to the full term when the actual parents cannot do so. The required egg and sperm from the parents are placed into the surrogate.
- Infertility counselling: this method majorly focuses on the process of dealing with the problem and getting through the issue along with appropriate coping strategies.
- Prescription medication: these are usually provided by the gynaecologist or physicians in keeping with the treatment processes.
The most effective treatment however would be to combine counseling and medication along with other options to find a holistic outcome to the couples’ concerns.
- Why should I take up counseling for infertility?
Children bring in joy for most couples and families. Being unable to have a child could be traumatic for to-be parents and can often be very distressing. Therefore simply going through medical procedures and taking medications will not help deal with the emotional blow that it causes. In such a scenario, infertility counseling could help a great deal. It is a process of understanding the concern biological and emotional; dealing with the feelings of pain; and learning to grow out of that distress. It mainly helps with identifying the problem and feelings related to it, and eventually coping and appraising that situation in a constructive light. Couples counselling is especially effective, where both partners guide each other through the process emotionally and can withstand the pain together.
Reaching out to a counsellor is essential for one’s emotional health during the phase just like having a physician to indicate the physical concerns faced. Maintaining one’s emotional status during such a time is a major boost to dealing with infertility or related concerns. Thus, setting oneself up for the process would be the most useful gain.
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Stringer, H. (2017). No insurance required: Psychologists who treat the trauma of infertility. APA Monitor, 48(7). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/07-08/trauma-infertility
Warren-Gash, C. (n.d.). Worldwide infertility rates unchanged in 20 years says World Health Organisation. Retrieved April 28, 2020, from https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93930
WebMD. (2019). Infertility and in vitro fertilization. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/in-vitro-fertilization#1