The difficulty of having children, in cases where there is a clear desire to have them, is one of the most difficult situations a couple face. Additionally, it is common for people to visit an assisted reproduction center to experience high levels of emotional suffering, as well as the appearance of feelings of anxiety, loss, and frustration.
Because of all this and the complex relationships between psychological factors and fertility, it is necessary to have the figure of the psychologist in assisted reproduction centers in order to offer a psychological support during infertility treatments.
Objectives of psychological support in infertility treatment
Whatever the theoretical framework in which the support or the intervention is carried out, the ultimate goal of this psychological support is help the patient (s) improve their quality of life and mental health.
Regardless of the type of psychological support ultimately offered to the patient, all patients are advised to attend the first visit with the clinician. And in the case of a couple treatment, let them come with these.
The goal of any psychological support is to ensure that patients understand the scope of their treatment options, receive sufficient emotional support and be able to cope with the consequences of the experience of infertility treatment.
Techniques used as part of the therapeutic intervention focus on the following aspects:
- Facilitate the expression of emotions.
- Identify the cause of the emotional difficulty.
- Educate the person or couple about infertility, Make sure they have enough information to make a decision about treatment.
- Intervene to minimize the effects of stress and help patients properly manage coping strategies.
Who is psychological support for?
Recent studies indicate that between 25 and 65% of patients who visit infertility centers have various significant psychological symptoms, mainly related to anxiety.
It is necessary to establish correct guidelines that allow detect symptoms that indicate the need for a psychological approach, And classify the patients who require the accompaniment of a professional psychologist during the treatment of infertility.
A number of factors can predict poor adaptation of patients to assisted reproduction treatment. These factors include the patient’s personal characteristics, social status, and treatment-related factors such as side effects it may have on the person.
Most common problems and treatments
Among the most common conditions in the population with infertility problems are included adaptive disorder, anxiety states, depressive moods, Relationship problems, refusal to go to psychotherapy for infertility and to cope with the results or at the end of the treatment.
1. Adaptive disorder
This disorder is characterized by the appearance of emotional symptoms such as anxiety or depression, behavioral symptoms such as changes in behavior, Or symptoms that arise in response to an external stressor such as job loss, financial problems, etc.
The symptoms are as follows:
- Discomfort in response to the stressor.
- Significant deterioration of social activity, Family, work or college.
Although these types of disorders generate a high degree of discomfort, they do not prevent the person from continuing with their daily activities. It is usually relationships, social or family relationships that are most affected.
Psychological intervention in infertile patients will be performed depending on the symptoms they present. Likewise, relationship difficulties will also be approached independently.
2. States of anxiety
Cognitive and behavioral techniques for dealing with anxiety and self-control are very helpful both for patients who are in the process and for dealing with stressful situations later.
Other somatic or psychophysiological disorders resulting from states of anxiety such as eating disorders, sleep or fatigue, also they can be treated using physiological activation control techniques; as well as through relaxation techniques.
The types of intervention recommended for this type of alteration are:
- Progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
- Training in social skills and assertive behavior techniques.
- sex therapy.
- Plan rewarding activities.
3. Depressed mood
Depression appears to be the most common emotional problem that people suffer from upon knowledge of their infertility and after unsuccessful treatment attempts. These problems usually occur more in women than in men., Which show a greater predisposition to pent-up anxiety problems.
The first step is to normalize and legitimize the feelings and emotions that assail the couple, making them understand that most of the people in their situation feel the same way as them.
Solution-oriented therapy has been established as affective therapy by working with the negative emotions associated with these processes, both individually and as a couple.
4. Couple problems
During the first contact with patients, it is necessary to that the professional assesses communication levels and conflict resolution strategies belonging to couples. He should also explore the type of defense mechanism they each use to cope with the situation, and thus identify the dysfunctional aspects of these mechanisms.
As part of the therapy, they will learn to talk about their pain and needs, as well as to listen to and take into account their partner’s concerns.
Communication within the couple may be affected during treatment. It is common for the feelings of one not to reach the other, holding onto the emotions with the possible intention of protecting the couple. However, this lack of communication it can increase feelings of anxiety and guilt, And generate greater tension in the relationship.
5. Patients who reject psychological intervention
Due to the high level of stress, these people may refuse to go to the psychologist or accept any form of psychological help. Many of these patients do not recognize the need for therapy.
The role of the psychologist in these cases will be to educate patients about the psychological effects that assisted reproduction therapies have on the person and the relationship.
6. Deal with the results or at the end of the treatment
For some patients, failure of infertility treatments can lead to an existential crisis with strong emotional reactions. These patients, especially those with uncaused infertility, they come to believe that their sterility has a psychological origin.
The psychologist should be aware that the grief of unsuccessful infertility treatment is difficult to overcome. And this should encourage patients to seek professional, family and social support.
Once the couple decides to end reproductive treatments, he must build a new identity as couples without children. And for that, it is necessary to reassess the foundations of their relationship. It is possible that in the face of this new situation, some issues that were not so important before become relevant, generating new difficulties in the relationship.
As a solution, they will need to discuss their priorities as a couple for the future and remember the current reasons for continuing to function as a couple without children. One option is to see this new situation as a possibility to have more independence and privacy as a couple.