2020, Responses from: Dr VP Singh and Hannah Blakely

I had symptoms from a young teen and remained undiagnosed for years. Endo has now taken away my chance to have my own children. I am angry and my mental health is suffering. How can I get over this?

Dr VP Singh

I am really sorry to hear that. Endometriosis seldom takes away all chances of pregnancy completely e.g. technologies like egg donation, embryo donation and surrogacy are possible. There are some really well qualified fertility counsellors in NZ and their help along with some support from ENZ and a clinical psychologist should help with with overcoming the grief of infertility which can be really overpowering. Best wishes.

Hannah Blakely

In the first instance it is important to have this client’s experience validated. Firstly the longevity of untreated or poorly managed symptoms of endometriosis is highly distressing together with subsequent result of infertility. It would be expected one would experience a grief process. Within this are stages of grief. These are usually not linear and can be more apparent or triggered due to life stages and circumstances e.g. being in a relationship or ready to want to conceive.

The comparison between one’s ideal and reality when infertility is realised can be highly distressing. This distress may involve feelings of sadness, guilt and anger among others at unexpected times. A stage of denial – avoidance of belief the problem not happening and bargaining – trying to resolve the infertility without effect can occur also.  A final stage may come in the form of acceptance – that is understanding infertility is the reality rather than ideal and then coping with this.

Coping can take many forms depending on what fits for the client and the stage at which one or they may be.  Experience of emotional distress is normal however for some can be difficult to tolerate or have consequences to self and others through unhelpful behaviours. If this is the case and mental health is impacted upon, learning helpful strategies to manage unwanted thoughts feelings and behaviours can be useful. Mental health professionals can provide support for example mindfulness based and behavioural strategies to encourage tolerance of unwanted emotions and thoughts/ responses to news of infertility.

Remaining socially engaged and is important to help feeling connected and keep communication open. Response to information that doesn’t fit with one’s ideal is normal. If this distress doesn’t resolve or reduce over time access psychological support for an individual or couple whatever the circumstances can be helpful.

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