Fertility Issues

Infertility is a common life crisis, affecting about 1 in 10 women; in couples problems related to fertililty exist in men and women, almost equally, and some problems have no clear origin.  Even in the best-case scenarios, when treatment leads to pregnancy, the experience of infertility can shake up a person’s sense of well-being and negatively impact his or her life for years afterwards.  For many, especially those under 35, the diagnosis of infertility has dramatic consequences, including symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as shifts in deeply felt expectations of herself, of family, and of her future.  It is now also normative for women to postpone having children until they are more securely established in their careers, or to consider, after a number of unsatisfying relationships, that being a single mother is a viable option to build a family.  For those over 40, the diagnosis of infertility can awaken feelings of remorse, guilt and shame concerning life decisions and the passage of time.  It is difficult for individuals to grasp that when they feel young, and energetic they are also "old" in terms of fertility and have possibly missed the opportunity to have children without medical interventions, donor conception or adoption.

There are currently many medical options available to men and women struggling with infertility, including IVF, and donor assisted conception.  However, there is little support for the mental health issues resulting from these different procedures.  Medical professionals rarely give enough attention to the psychological and emotional impact of decisions about family building, especially regarding the needs of children who are conceived in these ways.

A challenge to a person's fertility can shake self confidence, trust, and an individual's sense of well-being. Depression and anxiety are natural reactions to this personal crisis; old pains and suffering can be exacerbated or revived by the strain of treatment for fertility issues.  Psychological support can help individuals identify strengths to manage the medical treatment, sustain hope and optimism, and explore the meaning of family and the choices available for creating a family.  The struggle to conceive is a complex emotional experience that changes over time, and is often different for men and women.  Couples can be especially in need of joint support to make decisions and understand each other's reactions to medical treatment and choices for having a family.  

Dr. Freeman-Carroll specializes in providing psychological support for those undergoing medical treatment for fertility issues, and also for families as they grow after assisted conception.   Dr. Freeman-Carroll has had personal experience with infertility and donor conception.   She is availble for brief consultations, and on-going treatment, evaluations of donor recipients as well as donors.  Dr. Freeman-Carroll also leads support groups for families created with help from Assisted Conception (donor sperm, donor ovum, donor embryo and surrogacy).  She has frequently presented information about how to talk with children about assisted conception at National ASRM meetings and local conferences.