Many Hats Needed for Infertility Counseling

May 1, 2015
Rachel Lutz

When counseling patients on infertility treatment, health care providers need to perform the roles of patient advocates, researchers, educators, and confidantes, among others.

When counseling patients on infertility treatment, health care providers need to perform the roles of patient advocates, researchers, educators, and confidantes, among others.

Since infertility in itself is a complex state, recent research published in The Obstetrician & Gynecologist (TOG) examined how counseling can help patients explore, understand, and effectively cope with involuntary childlessness and fertility treatments.

The authors analyzed the current treatment options for infertile patients, including assisted reproductive technologies such as gamete/embryo donation, egg/sperm sharing, surrogacy, adoption, and fertility preservation. They also considered the role of guidelines in promoting the use of fertility counseling skills.

In addition to addressing the medical aspects of infertility, counseling should tackle the psychological and emotional factors impacting infertile patients, the researchers said. For instance, clinicians should couple advances in infertility treatment options with patients’ shifting psychosocial needs. Such multidisciplinary counseling services provided by health care team members can play a major role in delivering holistic, patient-centered care within fertility clinics, the authors noted.

“It is vital that clinicians focus on the changing psychosocial needs of their patients, as well as on the advances in infertility treatment, if they are going to fully meet the needs of people affected by infertility,” explained study co-author Jolly Joy, MD, in a press release.

Legal implications for the patient, provider, and fertility clinic must also be addressed when considering infertility treatments, the researchers noted. Additionally, counseling providers need to adhere to acceptable practice guidelines outlined by professional bodies.

“It is important that all the interested statutory and professional bodies that produce guidelines on standards of multidisciplinary practice within the field of infertility continue to communicate with each other,” TOG editor-in-chief Jason Waugh said in the statement. “This will help achieve the best standards of practice. It will also have a positive and active influence on the growing global nature of infertility counseling and treatment.”