Counselling for fertility issues
Lulu's private fertility clinic offered counselling as standard, which she viewed as a good thing.
No that was offered as part of the… you didn’t have to pay for it additionally, with the clinic, the private clinic they offered it as part of, you could go as many times as you want you know during that period or even afterwards if you hadn’t. So that was just part of what they offered. And I think that was a really good thing to do. Because sometimes I got to the point where you just think I can’t talk to people about this anymore. And you know and you can’t of think, oh I don’t want to bother with people any more. So it was quite good to have somewhere to go to kind of offload all of that. So yes.
Every time Karen asked for a counselor she found they werent working unless she made a special...
Steve said it was important to keep trying and find the right counselor, who can provide the kind...
Catherine felt that she could really have benefited from fertility counselling but was not happy with the general counselor she saw.
At the very beginning before we started IVF I got into a complete state at one point, where I just couldn’t stop crying. I mean I would cry all the time when I wasn’t at work. I would go to work and be together all day, and then come home and just cry. I, it seemed like I just cried all the time. And I went to the doctor and said, “I really don’t think I’m coping.” And she said, “Well, maybe you could see a counsellor, who would help you with some coping strategies.” Which I thought sounded fantastic. And I was really looking forward to seeing this counsellor, and I was really sure it was going to really help. And it was just awful. I mean I think it was partly that I didn’t go and see a specialist fertility counsellor. And I would really advise anyone to make sure that they do, rather than just see a general counsellor. Because the woman I saw didn’t really have, she didn’t seem to have any understanding at all of fertility problems. And she just kept saying, “Oh, that must be awful” and sort of looking out the window in a rather vague kind of way. And then she wanted, and I, I suppose it’s a kind of counselling, a kind of therapy, where they want to go back into your childhood and discuss your, she wanted to discuss my relationship with my mother. And I’m sure this was probably terribly relevant, but at the time to me I just thought, you know, “I’m not here about that. I really don’t want to talk about that. I want you to do something to help me, I, to help me get through this now, not to talk about my past.” And I remember her saying, “Would you like to come and see me again?” And I thought it would be really rude not to say, “Yes.” So I made an appointment, and as soon as I got home I rang up and cancelled it. And it, it was sad actually, because it put me off going for counselling again. And I think it could have probably been really really helpful if I’d been to see someone who actually was experienced at dealing with people with fertility problems. And I know a lot of people find it an absolute godsend, but it did completely put me off the whole counselling thing actually.
Fiona's counselling helped her come to terms with the loss she felt at not being able to have her own children.
Clare and her husband had counselling together which helped them come to terms with infertility and their different reactions to treatment failure and miscarriage.
I think it has strengthened us, definitely. That’s not to say that it’s always been plain sailing. Because it hasn’t. And I think there have been times when it’s been incredibly difficult. I think particularly because for me I feel an element of guilt about the fact that the fertility problems all lie with me. You know, [husband]’s perfectly healthy and given he was with a partner who didn’t have blocked tubes or any fertility problems at all he’d be a father by now. And I think that’s very very difficult to come to terms with. And I know from talking to other people again, to the, the Infertility Network that where you have an element of, you know, there’s a definite problem on one side or the other, whether it be male factor infertility or something wrong with the woman, that there is always that feeling or often that feeling of guilt that they’re the one, that partner is the one that’s stopping the other one from having children. I think also the other time that we really hit problems was after the first miscarriage, because we treat, we responded to it very very differently. And I think that was why it was so important for us to go to counselling. Because I fell apart, and [husband] didn’t. And that was quite difficult because I felt that he wasn’t as upset about it as I was. Whereas in actual fact he was just dealing with it in a completely different way. And also he felt that he needed to be strong for me, and that there wasn’t space in our relationship for both of us to fall apart and that he needed to be the strong one. And I found that very hard because I felt that he was just kind of putting it, you know, “That’s in a box and I’m going to pack that up and, you know, it’s all over now. There’s nothing we can do about it, so what’s the point getting upset about it?” And that’s not how he felt at all, but that’s how I felt he was behaving. And so I think the counselling was absolutely vital at that stage, for both of us to understand. And it was very hard. You know, he, we both said a lot of things during the counselling session that were very hurtful to the other one. But because we were able to deal with that in the safe environment of a counselling room, rather than a sort of slanging match in the middle of your lounge, I think that was very positive. And I think now we are in a very positive place in terms of our relationship, and we are incredibly strong. But I’m sure there’ll be times when we’ll be tested again, when we’ll, particularly, you know, during the middle of an IVF cycle when I’m taking drugs and, you know, very hormonal and very irrational and just picking fights about the most stupid little things, just because I, I’m not coping or I’m not coping with the stress. And it is very difficult. But I think, you know, in terms of testing your relationship, if you can get through this, you can get through anything.
Carol felt that the counselor she saw at her local fertility unit asked inconsiderate questions...
I saw one counsellor who was at the unit and she asked me, her first question was, “How would you feel if you and your husband could never have children?” And as I was right in the middle of treatment I felt that question would be totally inappropriate, so I responded very angrily and asked her what her, what she would do if her husband or her was diagnosed with cancer. And she said, “What an awful question.” And I said, “Well it is no different from what you have just asked me. You have more or less taken away all my hope.” So I didn’t find it very rewarding at all. There was the strategically placed box of tissues and flowers, and usually in NHS hospitals, you don’t even get a carpet. And all of that was there. I mean the tiniest room I have ever seen in my life and I asked her whether she had had children and had any problems conceiving, and she said no thankfully I have been very fortunate and had three lovely children. And I wanted to scream at her and say, “How the hell do you know what I am going through then?” I asked her about her training and it was just a basic counselling course. She hadn’t had any specific fertility counselling. And I didn’t appreciate it at all.
Maggie and her partner are comfortable talking to each other about their feelings and so did not feel the need for counselling. But perhaps it could have helped.
We didn’t go down the counselling route throughout our fertility journey. It was something that wasn’t particularly offered to us either. I guess we did a lot of soul-searching ourselves. I’m fairly lucky in that my husband and myself have a really open relationship and we do feel fairly comfortable about talking about really really deep and quite dark sometimes feelings. We did, so in a way I think we would have benefited from some kind of therapy just to deal with some of the issues that it raised about us. I remember having a huge kind of existential moment about the whole thing, thinking, “What is the point of me? If I can’t have children, why am I even on this planet? You know, I would love my...” You, people’s cats would be pregnant, you’d see dogs having puppies, people seemed to be having babies left, right and centre. And I just wondered, “Why am I even here? If the whole point of the species is to kind of recreate itself, then I should have been, you know, kind of faded out.” And that was very very difficult to deal with that, you know, “What is the point of me? If I can’t have children, why am I here?” That was very tough to deal with, very very tough. And I’m not even sure I know the answer to that yet.
Last reviewed July 2017.
Last updated July 2017.