An integral part of the management of difficulties in conceiving a child is psychological support, or counselling, which provides you with space to talk and reflect, while accompanying you on the road to medically assisted reproduction (MAR). Explanations by our sexual health counsellor, Mrs Fabienne Coquillat.
Psychological consultation in MAR, a choice or an obligation?
The Reproductive Medicine Act (RMA) has recognised the importance of psychological support before, during and after treatments, since 2001.
In Fertility Medicine, we make it possible for each couple to meet freely in a neutral space in the presence of a psychologist or sexual health counsellor, depending on the couple's needs or as recommended by the doctor.
In the particular case of insemination with donor sperm (AID), counselling is obligatory in view of the multiple challenges. Some subjects are discussed in depth with the couple, such as breaking the genetic bond and attachment to the future child, the possible alternatives (adoption, abandoning the idea), etc.
What is the "resources assessment"?
During counselling, we approach several subjects with the couples over 1.5 hours. How do they live with the fact that their plans for the future are compromised? How do they deal with the passage of time? How do they maintain self-esteem and self-identity in a situation full of anxiety, blame or sadness? How do they maintain a fulfilling sex life when medically assisted reproduction treatments intrude into their intimate relationship?
The resources assessment allows each person to put their perceptions into words, to stand back from the situation and assess their resources and strengths as well as their weaknesses (relationship within the couple, support from family and friends, leisure activities, interests, etc.). The aim is that in the end, whatever the outcome of the treatments, the couples can continue to move forward.
This time of reflection is often an opportunity for the men and women I see to dare to say some things that they would otherwise not express. Sometimes I witness moments of great emotion!
What challenges does MAR bring?
The investigations, the announcement of the diagnosis, the treatment proposal and especially the waiting for results create stress and outpourings of varied and intense emotions. To overcome a failure and start a treatment cycle while continuing to lead a normal social life are also factors that put someone's mental state to a harsh test.
How do you envisage the end of treatments with couples?
When treatments come to a successful conclusion and pregnancy begins, couples generally resume their normal life. However, it sometimes happens that support is still necessary after the end of treatment, especially in the case of insemination or in vitro fertilisation with donor sperm.
It may also happen that the treatments fail and the couple then have to think about a different way of living together by focussing on new plans. Adoption as an alternative is also considered and discussed without taboo.
Is it also possible to meet other couples who are facing fertility problems?
Absolutely! Discussion groups are offered on an ad hoc basis and are organised around various topics relating to medically assisted reproduction.
Are you worried about an infertility situation and would you like to talk about it? Would you like to meet other people in the same situation?