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2019

How Counselors Can Help during IVF Treatment

What is IVF Treatment

In vitro fertilisation is the process of fertilisation of the egg with the sperm outside the body. This happens with the help of monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process. The eggs are removed and sperm is allowed to fertilize the egg in a laboratory. After this process, the zygote goes through the embryo culture for a time period of 2–6 days. After that, it is implanted in the woman’s uterus.

This happens in order to initiate a successful pregnancy where otherwise it wasn’t happening. This reproductive technology is often used for infertility treatment. Sometimes, this process might not be successful, which is why IVF Counseling comes into existence.

Introduction to Infertility Counselling

Dr. Poonam Pandotra Explained that “Infertility can be an emotionally wrecking choice, which can provoke many sides of a patient, be it emotional, cultural, spiritual, moral or ethical.” While the results can be tumultuous, it is often noted that people lean towards their spouse and family when distressed, rather than deciding on IVF counselling and support. The main reason why people avoid this is that they feel that it is not necessary.

The importance of mental health has not been stressed enough, which is why it is not deemed necessary. Infertility counselling is a way for patients to understand how they feel about infertility and the treatment procedure. It gives them a better understanding of the choices they make and helps them accommodate their feelings. It is a highly recommended step in the process of seeking in vitro fertilization.

What happens during IVF treatment

There are many people who seek help during IVF treatment because of the emotional distress they go through. It is a rollercoaster of emotions, that range from despair, hope, anger, anxiety and isolation. Some even adversely impact others in the family. It gets hard to deal with those in the family who have a baby and causes a hard time for everyone.

Women have more problems than men because they blame themselves for being the problem, hence facing problems like self-blame, low self-esteem, avoidance, negative emotions, anxiety, depression and distress. It undermines their sense of security and lowers their positive and optimistic thoughts. However, it is justified. This diagnosis and treatment must hence go hand in hand because it helps the patients live a better life.

Importance of IVF Counselling

The role of IVF Counselling is mainly to keep the individuals informed about all possibilities – regarding psychological, social and legal implications of donor treatments.

  1. IVF Treatment counselling offers a non-judgemental platform for patients to be clearer about their solutions and seek what they find best.
    2. It facilitates decision making regarding the treatment and whether or not they wish to continue it.
    3. It offers them an advanced approach towards their confusions and questions, giving therapeutic support to address the problem in a mature manner.
    4. The acceptance, loss, grief, future planning and interpersonal problems are faced and ethics are taken into rational thinking.

Possible Complications and Risks

IVF counselling does not provide you with the answers for your situation, It encourages you to find them. Counsellors cannot interfere with the couples’ own decisions or influence them in any way. They solely allow patients to talk and listen to them without giving any advice. Sometimes, it also happens that the couple may focus on their problems and neglect their partner’s issues. Instead of discussing them together, they choose not to address it.

This can be a naive mistake which needs to be worked on. An IVF counselling session should be conducted where both the partners are open to each other and talk about how they feel about the treatment. This will improve their spirits and allow them to make better and honest decisions regarding their treatment.

How does IVF Counselling work?

The most important thing to consider during this treatment is what the patient feels. There are underlying emotions in the patient such as shame, anger, frustration, aggression, inferiority and rejection which are important to perceive and inspect. Such emotions are to be talked about and made clear to the patient so that they find ways to express their concerns clearly.  There should be a confidential and reliable environment where the patient can talk freely without any qualms.

The counsellor who sits with the patient has received special training and has the role of listening to the patient. They can also assist them in any problems they are facing and give them hindsight of everything. For such cases, there are counsellors who have special training in dealing with the psychological and emotional implications of the IVF process. They want to help their patients understand the entire process and cope with the challenges that come with. Not being able to give birth to a child places uncertainty in the patient’s mind and they need to feel secure and understood in their journey towards chances and acceptance.

Who should go for IVF Counseling?

There are some patients who are advised to attend IVF Counseling. They can be the following:

  1. It is important for people to understand what they are about to do and how to understand and cope with the effects and implications of the treatment.
    2. The patients must accept that the treatment does not work all the time. There is no guarantee for this. This is why counselling is important so that they are prepared for any outcome or failed attempts. Such failures may results in feelings like frustration, hurt, disappointment, hopelessness and depression among couples. Counselling can help with this and make them decide whether they want to try again.
  2. Counselling usually offers the patients an option of trying again a few months later after a failed attempt. It takes time to recover from stress. This time can give them open discussions. They can discuss with the IVF doctors about why they failed so that. the possible reasons why the treatment was unsuccessful so that they can improve their chances of success the next time.
  3. If the treatment is successful, this counselling helps them understand the role of parents and cope with new challenges.
  4. Sometimes it also ends in a pregnancy loss or miscarriage. This is also something couples should be prepared for and counselling helps them with this.
    6. Counselling helps patients consider other options as well. They can also reflect on adoption, surrogacy, or sperm donation.

Asking the right questions

Important questions need to be asked in order to find out about the patient’s thought process and psychosocial condition, such as:
1. How they realised they couldn’t get pregnant
2. Their reaction and feelings
3. How they handled the situation
4. How it affected their life
5. What they feel about the causes of this problem
6. How they handle the situation like a couple
7. What were the influence of this on the couple and their relationship

With the help of a questionnaire, you can get a better understanding of everything and address the problem accordingly. The patient must be assured that all their problems are understood and that they are wholly involved in everything. They must understand their own participation and responsibilities and get all the information about everything that can be done in this treatment.

India and IVF Counseling

The main problem with a place like India is that such problems are not discussed openly. Infertility counselling in India is very weak right now and that needs to be strengthened. More than 2.7 million people are infertile in India and that is a jarring number. Which is why it is equally important for people to be well-educated about the same. Till now, the biological aspects were only considered in such cases. Till we don’t tap the psychosocial aspects of involuntary childlessness, the patient will not be able to heal from the same. It is important to encounter interpersonal approaches and carry out an effective treatment for the patient.

There should be a proper division and balance between the biotechnical part of the infertility cure and the infertility problem. Patients mostly feel misunderstood and neglected. They are too ashamed to even talk about this problem to anyone. They are considered neurotic or mentally ill if they think of approaching a therapist. People refuse to accept that therapists and professional psychological help is utmost essential and most of the people who need it remain untreated because they seem fine to everyone. Sometimes not being able to meet the psychosocial needs could be one of the factors contributing to unsuccessful IVF treatment as well.

Conclusion

The introduction of such a topic is highly important to be properly elaborated and explained. A concept like this of infertility consultation itself can be very sensitive to touch and might require many biotechnical standards and achievements to be met as an end result. There are some things to be considered. In the starting, all the considerations are to be taken. It is important to differentiate between purposes, objectives, problems and skills of the patient and the ways of consultation and counselling. However, the theoretical definitions and concepts also come handy and are proven to be useful. It is a basic model to be followed and used for projects and practice. It can be adapted and modified according to new research.

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