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Examines the need and types of counseling available for infertile couples.

The counseling needs of infertile couples

Infertility clinics recognise the counseling needs of infertile couples.

It is known that infertility treatments are very stressful for couples. It is important for patients to remember that they did not choose to become infertile but can decide what to do about. The family doctor, specialist and 'support group' may be available to help couples. Support groups consist of couples who are going through or have experienced infertility and its treatments, their support and guidance can often prove invaluable. Infertile couples must also recognize that infertility treatment does not produce immediate results and with patience, a positive attitude and appropriate treatment, most infertile couples can eventually become parents.

The basic aim of counseling is to ensure that the patient understands the implications of their treatment choice, the patient receives adequate information and emotional support, and that they can cope in a healthy way with the consequences of treatment.

All licensed IVF clinics in the United Kingdom are required to offer their patients counseling before proceeding with treatment. However couples do not have to accept offers of counseling if they do not feel it would be helpful. Mandatory counseling may be viewed as an unnecessary infringement of the liberties of the person participating in the program. Different countries have different legislation governing the provision of counseling for assisted conception treatment.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) code of practice in the UK sets out that implication, support and therapeutic counseling should be available to couples in all licensed UK IVF centres.

Implication counseling

Implication counseling to enable couples to understand the implications of the proposed treatment for themselves, their family and for any children born as a result. This may of particular relevance for couple seeking treatment with donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos or surrogacy. Areas of concerns should be dealt with such as anonymity, confidentiality, and risk of transmission from the donor of genetic and infectious diseases etc. The child right to seek non-identifying information about his or her genetic origin at age 18 year or earlier if contemplating marriage may influence the couple decision on whether or not tells the child of his or her genetic origin. Genetic counseling should be offered when there is an increased risk of passing on an inherited disease to the offspring. Psychological counseling should be offered for partners suffering from psychosexual problems such as impotence and vaginismus.

Support counseling

Support counseling to give emotional support and information from the start of the treatment. It is primarily the task of the clinical team but unfortunately, tension often erases much of the information, which has been given, and many patients will not have fully digested what have been said. Infertility counselors need to address these defects and detects any tensions showed by the patient's poor understanding.  Counseling is of particular importance at times of particular stress. This could result from the frustration of the desire for a child, or social and family pressure, or the treatment received with its limited success rate. Anxiety is tremendous whilst waiting results of treatment; couples are often torn between hope and fear of failure. Failure of treatment can be very difficult to handle and a tremendous sense of grief.

Therapeutic counseling

Therapeutic counseling to help couples understand their expectation including the prospects of failure and adjusting to childlessness, counseling can with time, help people adjusts and accepts the situation. Therapeutic counseling also focuses on certain issues such as sexual and menstrual problems.

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