The emotional impact of fertility problems and treatments

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Again, there isn't room here to cover the vast array of treatments and procedures that are involved in assisted conception. However, it is clear that the emotional costs of fertility problems can be significant. Those diagnosed with fertility problems are more likely to be diagnosed as depressed; to have anxiety problems; to report relationship problems and specifically higher levels of difficulty with their sexual relationship. The treatments themselves can exert extreme physical and psychological pressures and as many as two-thirds of procedures do not result in a baby. For some couples, despite massive intervention at great personal and financial cost, a baby is never achieved.

Sadly, fertility issues are also not uncommon for those who already have a child. The sense of loss and disappointment and personal failure can be just as intense for the individual or couple even though they already have a child.

India and Chris's story

India had her first baby at 36 with IVF tenyears after they first started trying for a child. Grace brought so much happiness, and with India aware of her age, they tried again quite quickly for another child and conceived twins. Sadly the babies were lost before the end of the first trimester. India spent a couple of years getting over this loss while trying to carry on with life as normal for the sake of Grace. Chris was 'desperate' that they should have a sibling for Grace and so at 42 India again became pregnant. She was referred for help with depression as she found herself crying 'for no reason' and couldn't understand why. In therapy it was extremely hard for India to admit that in many ways she regretted getting pregnant again. She said she had now had 'more cycles of IVF than she could remember' which had mainly been paid for by her parents and hence she felt 'this responsibility to give them grandchildren for their investment'. She felt that the treatment had aged her, she had missed out on time with Grace and she felt angry about having lost the twins. Grace was now at school and she felt another baby would mean 'going back to the beginning again'. Having opened up this discussion India began to talk to Chris who also admitted he had some reservations about having another child, particularly the financial implications. Chris was approaching 50 and felt his future earning potential was uncertain. Towards the end of the pregnancy, however, they both had much more positive feelings about their future. They had been helped particularly by Grace's enthusiasm about having a baby brother.

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