At Duke Fertility Center, we see the benefits of providing our patients with multidisciplinary care every day. We believe that your emotional well-being is just as important as your medical treatment and that the two go hand-in-hand.
Our Psychological Services Program, led by our onsite Clinical Psychologist, Julia T. Woodward, PhD can help you cope better and feel better as you work to build your family. Dr. Woodward holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, is licensed with the State of North Carolina, and has over 15 years experience helping patients meet the challenges of infertility, pregnancy loss, and family building.
Stress and Infertility
Researchers have found that the number one reason for fertility patients to discontinue medical treatment isn’t poor prognosis or high costs – it is emotional distress and treatment burnout (Domar and colleagues, 2010). We recognize how stressful it can be to pursue fertility treatment. Patients struggling to build their family may report:
- Feelings of shock, sadness, anger, shame, and inadequacy.
- Experience worry, difficulty with sleep, less pleasurable sex, or feeling out of control.
- Fear that stress is causing or worsening fertility problems.
- Feel isolated from or envious of friends, family, and neighbors who seem to get pregnant or stay pregnant so easily.
- Struggle to communicate thoughts and feelings about fertility to a partner.
- Find fertility problems and their treatment to be logistically inconvenient, socially difficult, financially expensive, ethically complex, and emotionally painful.
Comprehensive Stress Reduction Program
To address these complex issues, Dr. Woodward directs a comprehensive Stress Reduction Program that includes individual and couples counseling, support groups, egg and sperm recipient classes, decision-making consultations, yoga for fertility, and acupuncture. Singly or in combination, these services can help you:
- Build coping strategies, including how to manage negative thinking patterns and worry.
- Express difficult emotions effectively so that they feel less overwhelming.
- Combat the feelings of isolation that are so common among fertility patients.
- Handle social media posts, baby showers invitations, and well-intentioned, but insensitive comments from your social network about why you aren’t yet pregnant.
- Think through complex emotional and ethical issues associated with fertility treatment and craft a plan for discussing with your loved ones.
- Gain information as needed about alternative family-building strategies such as donor eggs or sperm, domestic or international adoption, and child-free living.
Dr. Woodward also works with patients struggling with embryo disposition concerns, fertility preservation concerns, multiple gestation, medically-indicated termination or selective reduction, needle phobia interfering with self-injections of fertility medications, a sexual trauma history, or sexual dysfunction. Appointments can be scheduled by calling Dr. Woodward directly at 919.572.8853.
Volunteers needed for research study on how to support women experiencing infertility
Researchers at Duke are conducting a study to understand factors that contribute to stress during infertility. Findings will help design a psychological intervention to support women experiencing infertility.