Infertility is very stressful, especially for women. The level of pain women feel when they cannot conceive is comparable to losing a loved one or receiving a diagnosis of terminal illness. This emotional rollercoaster can lead to anxiety and depression.
Stress and anxiety reduce the overall quality of life, and they can compromise fertility and reduce chances of getting pregnant.
If you are feeling burned out and demoralized or if your relationship is suffering, counseling can help. Infertility counseling can successfully reduce stress and depression leading to improved treatment results.
Individual and Couple’s Counseling
Houston Fertility Specialists offers individual and couple’s counseling with our in-house, certified psychologist and therapist, Dr. Irena Milentijevic. The initial therapy session with Dr. Irena Milentijevic will be 60 minutes, and subsequent sessions are 45 minutes. Dr. Irena is always enthusiastic to meet a new client and learn about your needs. She is eager to find out how she can be of best help to you.
As you work together with Dr. Irena in therapy, you will discover how to reduce stress due to infertility, including infertility treatment induced stress. She will help you discover how to take care of yourself and how to deal with the intense feelings of sadness, anxiety or anger so that you can move forward in your life in a calmer and more positive manner.
Skype or telephone counseling is an option if you do not live in Houston. It is recommended for clients to have already established a relationship with Dr. Irena, but she currently offers services for those who:
- have a significant medical condition that prevents them from driving
- are put on bed rest during their treatment to maintain pregnancy
- have a newborn or a sick child at home
- have work or other commitments that conflicts with our usual schedule
Dr. Irena has been providing Skype and telephone sessions for many years. They can be very effective, especially while you are undergoing your treatment. The length of Skype or phone counseling sessions is also 45 minutes.
Pregnancy Loss Counseling
Consultation Services for Third Party Reproduction: Egg Donors, Sperm Donors and Gestational Carriers
Psychological Evaluation of Egg Donors
All egg donors require a psychological evaluation to determine if she is suitable for this process. The donor and her partner will need to meet for an hour long clinical interview and psychological testing.
If you are using an anonymous donor, your clinic will set up an appointment with you to see Dr. Irena Milentijevic. However, if you are using a known donor, you will set up your own appointment with Dr. Irena.
Psychological Evaluation of Gestational Carriers
The gestational carrier and her partner require a psychological evaluation to determine her suitability for this process. She will complete several psychological tests followed by an hour and a half clinical interview with the gestational carrier and her partner.
Consultation With Intended Parents Using Egg/Sperm Donor
You and your partner will also need to meet for a psychological consultation to help prepare you for the process of using a donor egg or donor sperm. During the consultation, you and Dr. Irena will discuss the following issues:
- How to chose a donor that best suits your needs
- How to talk to your family and friends
- How to tell your child about his/her genetic origins
- How and when to disclose the genetic origins to your child
A list of internet resources and a list of books for parents and children will also be provided.
If you are using a known donor or gestational carrier, a joint meeting between you, your partner, donor and her partner, or a gestational carrier and her partner will also be scheduled to discuss various issues prior to moving forward.
8 Ways to Reduce Stress While Trying to Conceive
Did you know that 1 out of 6 couples have a problem getting or staying pregnant?
It is hard to be positive and not be worried when you face negative test results month after month. It is common to feel disappointed, angry, guilty and stressed out. You may also feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. A growing body of evidence suggests that stress may tip off women’s hormones so that fertility test results show up negative. Studies show that women who worry a lot are up to 20% less likely to get pregnant or carry pregnancy full-term.
Below are some suggestions for reducing stress when attempting to conceive.
1. Allow yourself to be sad and grieve the fact that you have not yet conceived.
Grieving allows you to work through and possibly let go of some of your pain and stress about your inability to conceive. Releasing your emotions can help keep your hormones in balance and possibly increase your chances of getting pregnant.
2. Know that you and your partner may react differently.
Communicate with your partner, but don’t expect your partner to always feel the same way you do. Women tend to be more affected by infertility as motherhood is one of the central female roles.
3. Get informed.
Knowledge is power. By understanding the causes of infertility and available treatment options, you will be able to make better decisions and feel more in charge.
4. Make an alternative plan.
Think about these questions: “What does parenthood mean to you?” “What is necessary? What is not?” You are less likely to be disappointed if you feel you have other options of becoming a parent (i.e. IVF, egg/sperm donor, adoption).
5. Don’t give up your life.
Keep doing the things you used to do. Get involved in something that makes you feel like you are contributing and gets your mind off trying to get pregnant (i.e. work, volunteering). Get out and do things that you enjoy that are fun and relaxing.
6. Take a break.
If trying to conceive is taking over your life, take a break and allow yourself a couple of months to re-group.
7. Practice relaxation techniques.
Yoga, meditation and breathing techniques can help relieve tension. They reduce the production of stress hormones and can also increase your chances of getting pregnant.
8. Find support for yourself.
Educate your family and friends about what you are going through so they understand. Tell them what kind of help you need. Find a support group that provides an opportunity to meet others who are going through a similar experience. Seek out the professional expertise of a psychologist if necessary. Most people allow trying to get pregnant to dominate their lives. If you feel isolated from your partner or family, think about having a baby at all times, can’t focus on work or enjoy other areas of your life, you may benefit from professional psychological support.
A psychologist with expertise in the area of infertility can help you find ways to reduce stress and feel more empowered about your choices. Therapy may even improve your odds of conceiving. Research shows that couples who participate in counseling are more likely to get pregnant than those who did not.
Remember, you have choices. Don’t let infertility take over your life.
Infertility Stress Test
Can you identify with any of the following?
1. You feel your body fails you each month you don’t get pregnant.
2. Your mind seems to be dominated by this single thought: “Am I pregnant yet?” It is hard for you to focus on your work or any other task that does not involve getting pregnant.
3. You hide tears when your friend tells you she is pregnant.
4. You feel sad more often than happy.
5. You long for a child and feel empty because you can’t conceive.
6. You feel envious, jealous or angry at anyone who has children.
7. It appears to you that people just don’t understand how painful it is not being able to conceive.
8. You feel you don’t belong with your peers who are having families.
9. You feel you are not a real woman because you can’t conceive.
10. Your inability to have a child has created tension in your relationship with your partner.
11. Not being able to conceive has cast a shadow over everything you do; you’re upset because your partner seems unaffected.
12. You feel you have lost control over your life and your emotions. You cry a lot for no apparent reason.
13. You wake up with a dark fear that you will never become a parent.