Finding a counsellor

GeneticcounselingIf you are finding that your fertility problems feel as if they are dominating everything in your life, it may be really beneficial to see a counsellor. BICA, the British Infertility Counselling Association, have a list of their members on their website, and you can find the nearest person to you. It’s a really good idea to see a counsellor who specialises in dealing with fertility problems because they will genuinely understand what you are going through – and will be aware of the issues that arise. The BICA list includes counsellors who will offer phone or Skype sessions so if you can’t find anyone near where you live, that doesn’t have to be a problem.

Counselling may not be for everyone, but it is definitely worth a try as some people find it incredibly helpful. It is a matter of finding the right counsellor for you and so there is nothing wrong with ringing a couple to see who feels a good match for you.

Last few days to book for fertility information day in Belfast

120px-Parliament_Buildings_StormontIf you’re based in Northern Ireland, there are just a few more days left in which to book your place for the Fertility Information Day to be held in Belfast on Saturday 3 October.

The day is open to everyone and is being held in The Long Gallery at the Parliament Buildings in Stormont in Belfast. It is organised by Infertility Network UK. It all kicks off at 9 am and runs right through to 3.30 pm, with talks on a variety of topics including NHS treatment and funding, nutrition, counselling, fertility investigations, treating endometriosis, embryology & recruiting an egg donor. The cost is £10 for individuals, and £20 for any professionals working in the field who wish to attend.

Tickets are available until the end of September, and you can find out how to book your tickets here 

It’s not too late to help with the counselling survey

If you are currently having or have you had IVF, ICSI or donor treatment at a UK clinic, it’s not too late for you to help Infertility Network UK by completing the quick survey about counselling support.

The survey is looking into the level of emotional support people receive from clinics and what they are told about the counselling service. it is completely anonymous and will hopefully provide a better picture of the provision across the UK and ultimately help support couples in the future going through the emotional roller coaster of IVF.

You can find the survey here –

Have you had IVF/ICSI or donor treatment at a UK fertility clinic?

120px-GeneticcounselingIf you’re currently going through IVF/ICSI or donor treatment – or if you’ve had IVF/ICSI or donor treatment – and you went to a UK fertility clinic for this treatment, you could help the charity Infertility Network UK with a survey aimed at finding out more about the level of emotional support people receive from their clinics and what they are told about the counselling service.

It will only take a few minutes to complete the survey – and there is space to leave any comments you may have about this and the end of the questionnaire. It would be incredibly helpful if you could do this as the more people who are willing to complete it, the better a picture we will have of the provision across the UK and the more meaningful the results will be.  You can find the survey here – please be reassured that it is totally anonymous.

Are you getting the counselling support you need?

Ask pretty much anyone who has had IVF what’s the most difficult thing about treatment, and they’ll talk to you about the emotional aspects.  Before you start fertility treatment, you might imagine it would be the drugs or the injections or egg collection – but for the vast majority of fertility patients, it’s dealing with the emotional rollercoaster of treatment that is so difficult  – which makes the fact that patients may not be getting the emotional support they should be entitled to all the more worrying.

A survey carried out by Infertility Network UK and the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA) found that a third of those who replied hadn’t been offered any counselling at their clinics.  When you are having IVF/ICSI or donor treatment this isn’t an optional extra – clinics are obliged to ensure that you can access counselling services and if they don’t, they are breaching their licence conditions: the HFEA Code of Practice clearly states that the offer of counselling by licensed clinics is a statutory legal requirement.

The online survey was available via Infertility Network UK’s website for patients to complete and it showed that 33% of the respondents had not been offered any counselling. 20% said they were not even aware that counselling was available at their clinic.  Of those patients who were aware, the majority (61%) felt that the potential benefits of counselling were not made clear to them.  Some said that they felt information about counselling was “hidden” in the information that the clinic had given them, and that little consideration was given to how patients cope with the emotional aspects of treatment.

Ruth Wilde, outgoing chair of BICA, said: “Counselling is an integral part of infertility treatment, not a luxury, yet many people are not even being offered information about counselling and how it could be of benefit to them before, during and after treatment. Clinics have a duty of care to their patients and the HFEA makes it clear that the offer of counselling is a mandatory part of this care in a defined set of circumstances. Infertility is an extremely stressful procedure with huge potentially long term emotional consequences and patients should expect to have access to counselling support as part of this process. The issue is not simply about patients being made aware of counselling, it is about how it is offered and the value and emphasis attributed to it. The survey reflects what we as practitioners know, but clinics and clinicians sometimes fail to understand – that it is not just about offering counselling as a box-ticking exercise, but about communicating the reasons and benefits for having it. There is support out there: BICA seeks to continually raise the standard of support offered to people affected by fertility issues and involuntary childlessness and to help them access the right help. Everyone having licensed treatment should be able to see an infertility counsellor through his or her clinic. For those not currently having treatment, there is a list of specialist infertility counsellors who offer private infertility counselling on our website at

I N UK’s chief executive, Susan Seenan, said: “We know from the people who talk to us every single day that the emotional impact of infertility is as devastating as ever. The sorrow, anger, and frustration that can come with prolonged fertility problems invade every area of life and people need the right help and support to help them cope. That clearly isn’t happening anywhere near as often as it should be.  This survey has shown what we have long suspected and we will be working with BICA and the HFEA and push for changes to ensure patients are getting the full package of care. Counselling can be a lifeline and clinics are failing patients if they overlook this.”


I’m sorry for the lack of posts in the last week, but I’ve been busy putting together the latest edition of The Journal of Fertility Counselling which I edit.  I didn’t ever have specialist fertility counselling when i was in the midst of IVF, but in retrospect I really wish I had. At one of my lowest points, our GP sent me to a counsellor attached the surgery who didn’t seem to have a clue about infertility and I came away feeling even worse after half an hour with a rather bored-looking woman who only seemed interested in why I wanted children in the first place.  I’d been hoping for some coping strategies, and that’s just the sort of thing a properly qualified fertility counsellor could help you with.

Too often, people imagine that going for counselling is a sign of weakness and feel that they should be able to cope without it.  I honestly believe that it’s a sign of strength as it shows that you are recognising how difficult your situation is, and taking positive steps to do something about it.  Of course, it may not be for everyone and it’s important to seek out a counsellor you feel happy with – but if you’re finding it hard to cope, getting some support from an expert who really understands what you’re going through can really help.

If you are interested in finding a counsellor, you can find a list of specialist fertility counsellors on the British Infertility Counselling Association website –