While assisted reproductive technology (ART) brings the possibility and hope of having a child to millions of people each year who encounter obstacles when trying to conceive a child, many people find the medical processes involved very stressful to say the least. Oftentimes, it can come to feel as though the process has taken over your life.
Women and men struggling with infertility not only suffer a physical loss but the loss of their reproductive story. This is the narrative we create (consciously or not) about how we will become parents. Some people are more aware of their story than others, but once the blow of infertility strikes, the discrepancy between one’s dream and reality can leave a person feeling robbed, traumatized and grief stricken even before they begin their first procedure.
When infertility persists, one’s fundamental beliefs about oneself, one’s relationships, one’s sense of competence and vision of their future feels shattered. This is not how they imagined the path to parenthood.
Suddenly, pregnant women seem everywhere and encountering them can bring an assault of painful emotions. When these women are strangers that is one matter, but when they are friends or family members, it can leave women and men feeling terribly alone and isolated from the very people from whom they would normally seek comfort and support.
You do not have to endure this difficult process alone. Whether individually, in a group or with your partner, psychotherapy focuses on understanding one’s reproductive story and how it is impacting your current experience. Finding understanding and support for what you are going through can bring hope, relief and strength to persevere. Recent research has demonstrated that our bodies do not distinguish between psychological and physical pain. Thus, injury or aggravation whether internal (you feel defective) or external (you have received a shot from a large needle), activates our body’s immune system response (i.e. inflammatory processes) to fight the threat we have experienced. While acute stress actually boosts the immune system, when stress persists or becomes chronic, it sets off a host of biological events that can put us at risk for a number of conditions including depression.
Your treatment will address you as a whole person—body, mind and spirit. Together we discover ways to strengthen your relationships, bolster social support and heal from the traumatic experience of encountering infertility and its treatments. You will learn techniques to quiet your nervous system, reduce the stress response and develop healthy forms of coping. We will also address basic lifestyle factors, such as eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.
When the stress of life begins to feel too heavy seeking support through psychotherapy can help us stay resilient. Well-being comes in part by finding something we can do about our circumstance. The point is to recover and bounce back from life’s setbacks whatever they may be.