Cal Volks completed her BA Hons and Masters degrees at Rhodes University in 1994 majoring in Psychology. In 2010, she completed the British Infertility Counselling Association Course in Infertility Counselling, and then completed an internship focusing solely on infertility counselling in Cape Town. She is currently the assisted reproduction counsellor at the Holistic Assisted Reproduction Clinic in Cape Town. Cal has researched, presented internationally and published in the field of infertility counselling.
If you could tell the newly diagnosed infertility patient one thing what would it be?
You may feel surrounded by people who can fall pregnant and that may make you feel alone. However, we estimate that 1 in 8 couples go through infertility and there are many things that you can do. Seek help immediately from experienced compassionate people.
Infertility treatment is often described as a roller coaster of emotions. Why is that?
Because you realise you can’t control something that you want so badly. This can lead to anger, sadness and anxiety.
Why do couples not feel comfortable talking about their diagnosis in society?
Having children is considered the norm, a basic requirement of our adult lives. Not being able to conceive can make people with infertility feel less than or ashamed. Even though there is a wider awareness of assisted reproduction, infertility as a medical condition requiring treatment still does not have universal acceptance and acknowledgement.
What coping mechanisms would you encourage couples to put into place to make the IF journey easier?
Empower yourself with information and people who can support you emotionally.
Do men and women cope differently with infertility?
Many women express their sadness more easily, whereas many men bottle up their emotions. We need to learn to work through this together.
What are the most rewarding moments for you working as an infertility counsellor?
When couples connect and figure out how to work together.
Why is it important for couples to seek support from an infertility counsellor?
It is a highly specific, information heavy place to be with many decisions to be made. Factoring in complex medical information, financial planning and excellent communication can sometimes be facilitated by an experienced compassionate counsellor.