Dorothy Greenfeld, LCSW

The Emotional Rollercoaster of Infertility

“Emotional rollercoaster” is a phrase often used to describe the ups and downs of infertility. As if the diagnosis and the treatment weren’t difficult enough, the emotional turmoil surrounding infertility—while perfectly normal—is yet another source of anxiety and stress. Psychological support and counseling can be very helpful to co-parenting couples going through this process.

Although infertility affects one in six couples in the United States, when faced with it most people feel isolated and alone. Especially difficult but normal feelings associated with infertility are:

– A loss of interest in usual activities
– Difficulty thinking of anything other than one’s infertility
– Change in sleeping and/or eating patterns
– Fleeting thoughts of death and dying
– Difficulty making decisions
– Feelings of isolation and loneliness

At times these symptoms may lead to strained relationships with one’s co-parenting partner, family, friends, and/or colleagues at work. An open (but entirely confidential) discussion of these issues with a counselor can often be quite helpful. In fact, infertile partners face a number of issues that can be helped by a meeting with a mental health professional.

A counselor can provide important information about treatment options and help to facilitate discussion of such highly charged topics as whether or not to pursue a particular treatment; whether and how to pursue third party assistance (such as donor sperm, donor oocyte, and surrogacy); and whether or not to pursue adoption. The counselor can also help with questions about multiple pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and when and whether to stop treatment.