Every day there are more people who resort to a process of fertilization or assisted reproduction as a means to have offspring. In some cases the reason is the own infertility or the couple’s own infertility, in others due to the decision to be a single mother or even in the cases of homosexual couples who resort to these methods to be able to conceive.
Infertility is a very delicate subject and in many cases it produces vital crises derived from our own thinking as a species: we are born to reproduce. When for health reasons we are not compatible with reproduction, or after numerous attempts to conceive naturally without successful results, we can fall into a feeling of emptiness, frustration and conflicting emotions that are difficult to resolve.
When the pregnancy calculator that every woman has inside of her begins to not work as she thinks it should and she sees time passing, there are assisted reproductive techniques as the best formula to achieve that longed-for pregnancy that is so desired . Consulting with fertility professionals will be the first step to know the reality of the problem and its magnitude, and also the first step to remedy it.
Psychological support improves assisted reproduction treatment
In this previous step and during the assisted reproduction treatment period, women are usually very emotionally affected, so having the support of a professional expert in reproductive psychology is usually the best ally during this monitoring process. On many occasions women face these treatments alone, without a partner, and need emotional support that understands and empathizes with their fears and insecurities, providing the best tools.
Emotional and psychological disturbances
Most infertile couples (25% to 65%, according to authors) consider infertility and its treatment as one of the most stressful and painful experiences of their life. Around 59-67% of women referred to infertility services also have anxiety problems and some psychiatric comorbidity (Regueiro Ávila and Valero Aguayo, 2011).
Each person and each couple has a particular situation that the psychologist must take into account when carrying out a psychological intervention as part of the assisted reproduction treatment. It is important to know the history that has led the person to make this decision to know if it was the result of a consensual and considered decision to avoid later problems. All this will have repercussions in emotional crises of infertile patients who resort to these methods that can be overwhelmed at a cognitive level and in coping with problems and at a psychological level by the accumulated feelings and emotions of guilt, frustration, fear, sadness, denial or confusion. All of this can be physiologically somatized, producing high levels of stress.
If a psychological control of the situation, all this can even be aggravated when the assisted reproduction treatment begins, due to all the fears and uncertainties that can be created and the false hopes created under that umbrella. This emotional baggage, if not controlled, could lead to episodes of anxiety, depression and even relationship problems. Infertile people can have learned helplessness derived from the impotence of not achieving, after many attempts, the goal of pregnancy. The woman thinks that she will never be able to get out of that problem, lowering her anxiety and self-perception levels and assuming that she will never be a mother. Which, thanks to current treatments, can change.
This false perception of failure is what the person and the psychologist must work to learn to face these internal emotional conflicts and improve that self-perception of effectiveness. Maintaining this emotional balance and self-motivation will improve the treatment of assisted reproduction and its success. Those women who have been able to reduce their levels of stress and depression and have learned to cope with conflicts and their attitudes under appropriate psychotherapeutic supervision have had better treatment results (Domar et al, 2000).
Benefits of psychological intervention in assisted reproduction
As we have already seen, the emotional problems that couples have to deal with in this phase of their lives are diverse, but it has been shown that they improve treatment, especially in the following aspects:
- Decrease in anxiety, depression and stress.
- Strengthens emotional intelligence to manage problems and conflicts: emotional self-control.
- Greater cognitive self-control in the face of possible failures.
- Improves the relationship.
- It enhances self-esteem and the perception of self-efficacy, thereby generating greater optimism about the treatment.
- Increase cooperation, trust and communication with the medical team.
- It helps to improve the prevention of possible psychological imbalances derived from prolonged infertility pictures or improves coping in case of not achieving the objective.
Reduction of the affectation due to prejudices or stereotypes derived from this decision (women who want to be single mothers, for example).
The advanced scientific techniques of assisted reproduction in vitro fertilization, in its different modalities: own eggs and partner’s semen; Own eggs and donor sperm or egg donation (donor eggs) show every day higher rates of effectiveness with appropriate treatment. Therefore, your desire to be a mother is not held back by fears, insecurities, false beliefs or prejudices. Put yourself in the hands of professionals who will value your situation and your possibilities and with the medical and psychological work and the social support of yours you will achieve what you have always wanted: to be a mother.
Regueiro Ávila, Ana Mª, & Valero Aguayo, Luís. (2011). Intervención psicológica en un caso de infertilidad femenina. Escritos de Psicología (Internet), 4(3), 27-35. Recuperado en 24 de junio de 2021, de http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1989-38092011000300003&lng=es&tlng=es.
Domar, A.D., Clapp, D., Slawsby, E., Kessel, B., Orav, J. y Freizinger, M. (2000). The impact o f group psychological interventions on distress in infertile women. Health Psychology, 19, 568-575. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0278-6188.8.131.528