At the Family Fertility Center (FFC), we appreciate that infertility and it’s treatment may be demanding, both physically and emotionally and that undertaking infertility treatment can be both an exciting but also challenging process.
In line with our philosophy of providing the best care possible, we have a counseling service that is readily available to you, and we encourage you to see this service as another component of our care for you.
How will I know if I need to see a Counselor?
You may wonder whether or not you need to see a Counsellor when you are having fertility treatment. Some people think they may be perceived negatively if they seek help, or that they have to be very depressed before talking to a Counsellor. Sometimes just being able to talk about your anxieties and feelings can help to normalise them.
Some couples choose not to tell family and friends about their treatment which means you can feel quite isolated and alone. By the time couples undertake infertility treatment they have often been through quite an emotional journey, counseling may help facilitate a smoother transition throughout your treatment.
Common reactions to infertility may include anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness, crying, depression, loss of self-esteem, isolation, guilt, anger and relationship difficulties.
Counseling can help by providing a sensitive, respectful space to explore your concerns and learn strategies that can help you manage expectations and the stressful aspects of your treatment.
We know that men and women cope very differently with their infertility.
Each partner is likely to deal with feelings in different ways, which may make it harder to support one another. Counseling can help you to recognise and understand these differences, helping to enhance communication within your relationship. Sometimes, talking about your expectations of treatment, and each other can lead to more understanding and tolerance of your partner’s position.
For many couples, making the decision to start IVF is not an easy one. It is not unusual for people to feel let down, helpless or angry with their bodies. Your motivation and senses of purpose can be challenged. Work can seem irrelevant, and slowly you may find yourself feeling consumed by the infertility treatment. Counseling can provide information and resources that will help you develop coping strategies.
What happens in counselling?
The range of “counseling” available at Family Fertility Centre is as follows:
- 1.Pre-IVF Counseling/ Information Session— usually a single session which will assist you to prepare for treatment. Any concerns you may have about treatment, identifying the potential stressful aspects of treatment, a discussion of positive coping strategies and the completion of the necessary consent forms.
- 2. Support Counseling — To provide you with an additional support before, during and /after treatment if and when necessary. For example, dealing with disappointment and grief, stress of waiting or anxieties.
- 3. Therapeutic Counseling — Available to those who have a need to explore issues and concerns in greater depth; for example, the impact of infertility and /or how treatment affects you, managing and balancing treatment demands within your life, your self esteem, your relationship, anxiety, depression, the adjustment to pregnancy and parenting and post natal depression.
- 4. Family Fertility Centre support options — Counseling is an integral part of the range of services available at the Family Fertility Centre. Counseling is provided for any health issues and infertility, and deal with the impact of treatment of both women and men.
Infertility is often difficult to manage, and is exacerbated when it is prolonged , when there isn’t family or social support at hand, when there are other major stresses in your life, or when you have had other losses. The Counselors role is to provide a frame work for you to explore your thoughts and feelings, to enhance your coping strategies, and to anticipate and assist in managing IVF treatment stresses.
Simply, if a couple has not conceived after 12 months of unprotected intercourse or if the female partner is over 35 , it is best to seek medical help after 6 – 9 months and if a female partner is over 40, they should take treatment if not conceive after six months of regular intercourse..
After knowing a partner’s medical history ,your specialist will discuss your life style or probably want to run you some tests( if required).
Following is your step by step guide to treating infertility.
- Step 1.LIFE STYLE CHANGES
- Step 2.TIMING
- Step 3.TESTS
- Step 4.DIAGNOSIS
- Step 5.TREATMENT
LIFE STYLE CHANGES — Changing your habits – both partners
Whether you are male or female partner, you may like to check the following list of life style habits, which can impact on your ability to conceive.
- Give up smoking. Women who smoke are more likely to have difficulty conceiving , may not respond as well to infertility treatments and are at increased risk of miscarriage, complications during the birth, and of having a baby with a low birth weight.
For men , smoking may affect the development and quality of sperm, decrease the sperm count and reduce the volume of seman. In addition, there is a higher risk of impotence ( erectile dysfunction).
- Don’t take alcohol. As drinking of alcohol may affect sperm count and increase the risk for miscarriage and birth defects.
- Say no to drugs. Drugs can effect sperm count and can also disrupt the menstrual cycle and ovulation process.
- Well balanced diet. There is no special eating plan for becoming pregnant. A sensible diet that includes plenty of fruit , vegetables , grains, , meat , poultry and seafood is advised.
- Exercise with caution.Exercising heavily everyday may interfere with the regularity of the menstrual period. For men prolonged cycling can cause damage to the groin and there is also the risk of damage to the testicles from contact sport.
- Cut back on caffeine. The studies are divided on this subject , but caffeine may interfere with the natural ovulation process and even a moderate amount of coffee ( one or two cups daily) may decrease fertility and effect sperm count.
- Mind your weight. For both men and women , being overweight can cause fertility problems,if your weight is influenced with other condition such as diabetes , or for women , Polycystic ovary syndrome ( PCOS). For women , a body fat level just 10-15% above or below normal can contribute to infertility. The good news is that a large percentage of women diagnosed with infertility related to being overweight conceive spontaneously when their weight normalises. Dieting while you are trying to become pregnant may throw out your body’s natural balance so it is best to embark on a weight loss programme before you start trying to conceive.For overweight men, losing weight may help increase your spermicide count.
- Avoid using lubricants. They contain chemicals that can damage or kill sperm.
- Avoid Toxins. Jobs involving heavy metals, such as lead or mercury, chemicals in pesticides, or chemical used in certain manufacturing process ( such as painting or printing) may be harmful to both male and female and damage sperms.
- Discuss your medications. As some medications may affect male and female infertility, please discuss with your doctor any prescription, over the counter medications, or complimentary therapies that you may be taking.
TIMING – Getting the timing right
If you are having regular cycles( regardless of of the length of the cycle) , subtract 14 days from your average cycle length. So if your cycles are 28 days, you will ovulate on day 14, but if your cycles are shorter, e.g. 25 days, by subtracting 14 days, you will ovulate on day 11. It is recommended that you have intercourse three or four days prior and on the day of your ovulation day in order to maximise your likelihood of becoming pregnant.
- The right balance of hormones to allow egg and sperm development and support.
- A healthy, mature female egg ( female oocyte or gamete) and whether ovulation regularly takes place.
- A functioning reproductive tract ( uterus and Fallopian tubes ) , which allows for the egg and sperm to meet and fertilise.
- A good quantity and quality of male sperm.
- The ability of the female body to allow for implantation of an embryo and to maintain and nourish that embryo.
DIAGNOSIS – Establishing the cause
Once the diagnostic tests have been completed, your doctor will have a clearer idea of what is causing the difficulty with conceiving and will then start treating the condition with medication, or recommend a procedure that may assist you in becoming pregnant.
TREATMENT – Starting medication or therapy
Discovering the medical reason for not being able to conceive easily and beginning treatment as advised by your doctor, is the start of a new and positive phase of your life. However, it is also important to acknowledge that even with treatment, it may also take some time to become pregnant. It can be a long, frustrating and emotional process. You and your partner should prepare yourselves for this.
The treatment of female infertility can be categorized into three defined stages.
- Hormonal therapy
- Surgical procedures
- Assisted Reproductive technology ( ART )
The treatment of male infertility can be
- Hormonal therapy
Assisted reproductive treatments (ART) are medical procedures used primarily to address infertility.
The cause of infertility may be associated with (male and female or both), depending upon the cause , following types of treatments can be suggested,
Ovulatory problems contributes 25% of infertility. Ovulation induction is basically the stimulation of ovulation by medication. It is usually used in the sense of stimulation of the development of ovarian follicles. It not only helps to increase the number and size of immature follicles but also trigger the oocyte release from relatively mature ovarian follicles.
Ovarian induction is also done prior to performing resistant cases of PCOS, IUI, IVF and ICSI.
Consulting Your Doctor
Regardless of your age, see your doctor if you have not fallen pregnant within six months, if you have any of the following
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Difficulties with sexual intercourse
- History of pelvic infection
- Two or more miscarriages
- History of using an IUD for birth control
- Prostate infections in the male partner
- Sterilisation reversal in either partner
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Breast discharge
- History of sexually transmitted disease
- Excessive acne or facial hair