Fertility-Treatment BLOG interview with clinical psychologist Mag. Karl-Heinz Brandt:
Mr. Brandt, the IVF Centers Prof. Zech offer their patients the possibility to benefit from psychological assistance, if desired.
What does this assistance look like in detail?
Mag. Brandt: The support is geared to issues of particular concern to the couple. These, in a nutshell, are the key issues:
• The fear that a pregnancy test comes back negative for the first time or once again
• Reducing tension during the waiting period
• Disturbances related to the personal surroundings
• A suspected psychological block
• Providing support through hypnosis
• Coming to terms with traumatic experiences relating to pregnancy / birth
• Coming to terms with traumatic experiences encountered during their life, and which are still seen as a burden
• Stresses and strains at the workplace
• Fear of needles and injections
The psychological support itself involves 1-5 sessions, depending on how complex the subject is. To this end, however, there are no fixed rules. We are flexible to determine how best to proceed to meet the requirements of the patients.
In what situations do couples seek your assistance?
Mag. Brandt: One of the most common situations relates to the negative experiences of couples with a history of previously failed IVF cycles. Often, help is sought by couples faced with a pregnancy ending in miscarriage.
Furthermore, there are cases where patients want to take full advantage of the possibilities offered right from the start. They therefore wish to benefit from psychological assistance, too.
It may also happen that psychological support will become important during the treatment. This is the case when, for example, egg collection has triggered specific emotions in the woman.
I think it is not easy for childless couples to cope with their situation when being surrounded by couples having babies. This means that they are almost regularly confronted with their seemingly hopeless situation: “All the others get pregnant but I don’t”. What have been your experiences in this respect?
Mag. Brandt: This is, of course, a widespread problem. From a sociological point of view, it is about couples (aged 35-38) who, at some point, realize that more and more people around them are blessed with children. One of their acquaintances, colleagues is expecting a baby. It is only natural that the couple says: “We as well want to have a baby”.
Their wish is motivated by the desire to “keep up”. The permanent comparison with other couples leads to a high pressure to perform. Instead, the couples should allow themselves more time, even if “the others” have been parents for quite some time. Since each couple is different from the next, there are widely varying situations for couple A, couple B and couple C. Therefore, it is pointless to compare ourselves to others.
Couple A believes that it is time to start a family: The woman stops taking the Pill and becomes pregnant soon after. It all worked out perfectly for them.
Couple B needs some more time, because their reproductive capacity, for whatever reason, is impaired (mild hormonal imbalances, poor sperm quality etc.). The disorders are not serious but may cause the first attempts to fail. Medical investigations will be performed, leading to a possible IVF treatment. This approach usually leads to a successful outcome.
The situation of couple C turns out to be more challenging: biological-medical factors, psychological motives etc. If they find themselves asking: “Why do all the others get pregnant but we don’t”, then there is a very simple answer: Their cases are less demanding than yours. This means that couples concerned would be well advised not to compare things that are not comparable, saying instead: “Our case is different from that of other couples. We’ll take the time we need. We are not interested in what any of the others do.” Clear differentiation is essential here.
→ read also “Psychological support for couples with unfulfilled desire for children – Part 2”
→ more articles concerning this topic in the Special »Infertility – Psychological help«