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The moment of infertility diagnosis

Biologist and body psychotherapist Antigone Oreopoulou of Althaia in Greece discusses the emotions that arise following a diagnosis of infertility.

You are sitting there, staring at  your hands. The doctor’s voice is like a drill in your ears.

“I am sorry Ms … ! There is a problem with your ….

“But today science has advanced so much, you don’t have to worry. There are millions of women around the word that had the same diagnosis as you and now they have  beautiful children.”

The voice maybe fades or becomes clearer.

But in the mind a torrent has just started: "I can’t have a child! Why me?”

When the couple ends up in front of the doctor, they already suspect that something is amiss.  Nevertheless, when the doctor verifies their suspicion, a wide spectrum feelings start arising in them. Even before the practical questions arise.

What are the factors that shape your emotions from the moment of diagnosis of infertility?

Who between them has been diagnosed with the fertility issue?

Though today the cause of infertility can be the man or the woman  (the ratio is almost 50% for each sex), or can be in both of them, the person that carries the diagnosis feels devastated and guilty.

What is the personality and the character of the person that has been diagnosed?

What is his/her history? If there is a history of personal upheaval it may be possible that this diagnosis is the last straw.

How is the relationship between the couple?

An infertility diagnosis can rock the relationship between the couple. A strong, well founded  relationship can weather this diagnosis better than a relationship that is not so well established.

Did both want a baby or one member desired it more and the other one just followed?

This is a very important factor that sometimes is a main cause for non-medical infertility. When one person doesn't really want a baby, his or her body says no. He/she wants to please the spouse consciously, but unconsciously the whole system refuses a baby. In the moment of diagnosis in such cases many contradicting emotions arise. Relief, guilt, questioning the self, anger are some of the contradicting emotions.

What is the cultural milieu of the couple?

When there is also a family pressure about having a child (regardless the reasons), the couple feels even more devastated  about the diagnosis.

What is the age of the couple?

Younger people feel that have some time ahead of them, but especially women after the age of 33 years old they feel more pressure.

What are their positive resources in their life?

Does the couple have some  good points to anchor of them or they go through a period that everything seems to go bad?

These are  some of the factors that can shape the feelings of the man of the woman that learn that they have a fertility issue. However they are vastly ignored and immediately all the focus goes on the medical approach.

It is very important however to take them immediately into account and cope with them before the treatment starts. Otherwise, they can hinder and lower the given possibilities of success.

Profile of the author

Antigone Oreopoulou B.Sc., M.Sc., M.A. is a biologist and body psychotherapist at Althaia Infertility Clinic in Athens

Antigone Oreopoulou studied Biology at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece.

She completed her first MSc in Nutritional Sciences at the Medical School of University of Toronto, Canada, and her MA in Psychology at the University of Indianapolis, USA.

She has been trained on Therapeutic Hypnosis, Body and Energy Psychotherapy, Trauma therapy and EMDR.

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