When should I consider asking for professional help?

8 fertility expert(s) answered this question

When is the right time to ask for professional psychological help?

Fertility treatment can impact your mental health. Should you seek professional support before or during your treatment?

Answer from:
Embryologist, Consultant Clinical Embryologist & Laboratory Manager Centre for Reproduction and Gynaecology Wales (CRGW)

Counselling is absolutely brilliant in an IVF clinic. It just sheds the light on (particularly in couples) how both sides of the couple are feeling. It gives you some mechanisms for talking about it. I thoroughly recommend it. I personally think it should be mandatory to attend at least one and it’s a very much underutilised part of an IVF journey and patients will obviously always find support on patient forums with other patients but I think talking to a counsellor that specializes in assisted reproduction is a really really really good thing and should definitely be performed.

Answer from:
Psychologist, In Vivo Fertility, Founder and CEO In Vivo Fertility

When should I consider asking for professional help? And the way I interpret the question here is psychosocial professional help.
My suggestion would be from the very beginning of the journey.
Why am I saying that – apart that us mental health professionals need to make a living as well! Ha ha
There are good reasons
First, I am a great believer in the power of the HOW.
How we go through a fertility challenge, or any challenge to be frank, influences to a great extent our outcome.
Our MINDSET, the way we go into the ‘fire’ defines whether we get burnt or not.
Going through the fertility journey in an agreeable, congruent and effective way for ME,
balancing out the roller-coaster ups and downs,
allowing myself to find out the sources of my resources and to be the ‘architect’ and manager of my experience rather than the innocent victim,
is absolutely vital.
And I totally agree and sympathize – I ‘ve been through it myself with my husband many times. Going through Assisted Reproduction is a serious financial commitment on the family budget…and one wonders ‘Can I afford another extra cost that seems at first to be a ‘nice to have’, even a luxury?
I am going to turn the question on its head: Can I afford not to?
Exactly because it is an important financial investment, shouldn’t you give it the best chance of success?
And that is only the money.
How about the emotional investment?
the physiological investment?
the relationship investment?
What I aim to provide through the In Vivo Fertility programs is a fulfilling experience of ‘family’ from day 1 for my couples, families, individuals. Because to my eyes and heart the intention of a family makes you a family already.
So, a congruent fertility journey of self-exploration and resilience is not just for the Assisted Reproduction Therapy time. It provides you with skills, learnings, competencies, strategies, communication dexterity.
It is a tremendous opportunity to bond even more meaningfully with your partner and most importantly with yourself.
Those skills and learnings will be put to the task in any future life scenario, and of course in your parenting aspirations and future achievements.
But even if you cannot for any reason commit to professional psychosocial support, I urge you to seek for such support before you reach boiling point – Observe, identify, and pay tribute to your own signals of ‘hot’ choice points!
seek for assistance before the fertility fatigue ‘explosion’ or the fertility burn out.

Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Founder of Your Fertility Hub

The general guidelines for seeking medical support for infertility are if you have been trying for six months if you are over 35, or 12 months if you are under 35. However, if you have a particular diagnosis for example PCOS or endometriosis, I encourage you to seek support medical advice earlier than that. In terms of seeking extra support, it’s also really key that you do this earlier on as well, often I find that women and couples aren’t seeking the support they need emotionally early enough and we do know that infertility can be incredibly impactful and has actually linked to stress, and anxiety, and depression, so seeking support for those things earlier on is also really key as well.

Answer from:
Gynaecologist, Obstetrician, Consultant OB-GYN, HFEA 'Person Responsible' at Sunderland Fertility Centre

Majority of the HFEA licensed centers do offer fertility counselling and all our women coming to the unit, are informed about the availability of fertility counselling. We give the contact numbers and we leave it to the patients if they wish to contact. Some don’t think that they need it but some derive a lot of benefit seeing the fertility counselor so, it is a bit of the situation they are in and their perception and their coping mechanisms. It is essential that it should be available to the couple so that they can um access it when needed.

Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Specialist Fertility and Miscarriage Counsellor Wendy Martin

​W​ell as for seeking out professional help ​I​ would say whenever you can​. I​ wouldn’t look at it as something that you only do if you’re desperate or if things have gone horribly wrong and you’re in a real state​.​ If you’re the clinic that you’re at offers you any free counselling or patient support at all take advantage of it​. ​I would because it’s always helpful to talk to a fertility counsellor specialist and it will help maybe reassure you about certain things and just you can explore and discuss certain concerns and fears that you might have​.​ ​I​t it doesn’t have to be an emergency or urgent​.​ ​I​t can just be like a chat​. ​J​ust like talking through what’s happening with you and then when you get to know that person hopefully you might be able to access more than one free session depending on the clinic​.​ ​Y​ou can go back there again and speak to them again​.​ ​I​t might be that you get one complimentary introductory session and then you might have to pay privately after that but at least you know who they are​, you least you can​,​ you’ve made that contact and hopefully it was helpful for you and you were able to um move​​ on​.​​ You can go back there again another time and feel comfortable. That is something that you could do to give you an extra layer of support​.​ Some people have loads of support and they don’t need much professional help at all​. They’ve got a lovely mom that’s right there for them​,​ they’ve got sisters that maybe haven’t had lots of babies already and they might have good friends​. V​ery often people’s friendships​,​ their friends and their family have all got babies and it can be quite painful and difficult to talk to them and there might be lots of jealousy and envy and difficulties around talking with you with people that got families and babies already​.​ Sometimes it’s helpful to just to have someone to talk to who’s not in that category​:​ they are neutral​,​ they are independent​, ​they’re not part of your family​,​ they’re not part of your friendship group and they will be able to support you in a professional way​.​ ​I ​would say if you get the chance go for it ​.​

Answer from:
Fertility Coach, Infertility and Mental Health Advocate The ManCave

As soon as possible. I know when I left the hospital I had no-one to turn to, there was no support whatsoever, no follow up routine. There was not a lot at the time, I googled my diagnosis and there was not a lot out there. But moving 8 years forward, there is a massive support network out there for men and women, support groups with a massive following on instagram, twitter and facebook. There are sources out there and counselling. Counselling is amazing for some people and others not but 100 percent have counselling, it might be what saves you and what ends up getting you through those tough days. But there are a lot of resources out there for us now.

Answer from:
Psychologist, Head of Psychology and Emotional Support Unit Clinica Tambre

This is a very good question. The most obvious answer would be: when the patient himself feels affected or when the environment begins to see that the situation is beyond him. At this point, it is obvious that a specialist should be consulted to help focus on the situation.

But in reality, for the vast majority of patients, human reproduction treatments are a major source of stress as well as an intensity of emotional baggage to which they have not previously been exposed.

This is why we, as human reproduction psychologists, understand that psychological care must be fully integrated into the treatment of our patients from the very beginning, exactly to prevent them from reaching more complicated emotional states. Good specialised psychological counselling allows patients to experience the whole process as less threatening.

Answer from:
Fertility Coach

From the medical point of view, the rule is that it’s best to seek professional help if you are trying to get pregnant naturally for more than a year or 1 year. I think it’s a good rule, but there are also exceptions. For example, if you’re already a bit older in terms of fertility, 40 plus, like most of my clients, then I think you have to realize that these years are very valuable, and it’s now or never, so don’t waste them. Seek professional help.
If you feel, if your intuition is telling you that there is something wrong with your body in terms of fertility, I would say, let’s have it checked. Trust your intuition and trust yourself in this. My personal opinion is that it might be good to also have your fertility, and more specifically your egg reserve, checked in a very early stage, even preventively. There are some very non-invasive, simple tests to check this. For example, a blood test for your anti-Müllerian hormone, often in combination with an ultrasound to count your antral follicles, your small follicles at the start of your cycle. Then if you know, for example, that you have an egg reserve that is less than average or even low in the worst case, you can seek professional help in time.

Besides the medical part, the medical professional help, there is the emotional professional help. I have to say this as a fertility coach. This is typically seen as something secondary to the medical part or nice to have but not a must-have. In my personal opinion as a fertility coach, of course, it’s also important that you’re in a positive vibe and don’t have too many mental blockages. I would say, even the emotional professional support, don’t wait with until you’re already at the end of your emotional rope. For example, in your decision process, which is the basis of everything, of the whole fertility process of your life. It can already be very useful to seek professional emotional help.

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