Regardless of where you are on your journey to becoming a parent, a fertility support group can go a long way toward making this process easier and less stressful. A large part of the difficulty in having an infertility issue is facing everyday experiences that were once easy but are now emotionally difficult. Whether or not to respond to a friend’s baby shower invitation, casual conversation about children during parties and holidays, and even scrolling through your social media accounts can become emotional landmines when you’re having trouble getting pregnant and need treatment.
This stress affects both women and men and can be particularly trying on relationships. Fortunately, an abundance of resources exist to help you cope and one of the best options is a fertility support group.
What is a fertility support group like?
Like other support groups, fertility support groups can consist of all-female, all-male or mixed members. Support groups can even focus on one particular fertility issue, such as those who have been diagnosed with endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), recurrent miscarriage, unexplained infertility and many more. Support groups can also be in person or online. It’s up to you which kind of support group you prefer.
Is a fertility support group right for me?
Deciding whether or not a support group is right for you can come down to your individual experience with fertility. Many individuals refrain from seeking the help of a support group because they believe that they are able to fully handle the emotional ups and downs on their own or that they should at least try to do so. This is simply not true – joining a support group does not mean you are seeking professional therapy. Support groups are designed to offer a warm, welcoming environment of individuals who share a similar experience. It is entirely up to you, or you and your partner, how much of your lives are shared with the rest of your support group and what is kept private. There is no pressure to explain anything that you find too painful or personal to discuss.
RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association provides those who are struggling to conceive with a checklist of questions that can help you decide if a support group is likely to be beneficial:
• Do you feel isolated? Lonely?
• Do you feel as if no one understands what you are going through?
• Do you have few people to talk to about your infertility diagnosis?
• Is your partner the only person you can talk to about infertility?
• Is your struggle to conceive affecting your normal routine (work, friendships, etc.)?
• Do you feel as if you’ve lost control of your life plan?
• Are you having trouble deciding to continue with treatment?
• Are social events like holidays and parties difficult to cope with?
If you find that you are answering “Yes” to the above questions, then a fertility support group may be an excellent resource.
In the Boston area, Resolve New England does a wonderful job of offering peer support group with many events through out the year. You can find a group near you here. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been struggling with infertility for a while, they offer groups focused on general infertility and groups focused on specific topics. General groups may include talking about current treatment, dealing with friends and family, and coping strategies. Discussion at their specialized topic groups enables attendees to meet others who share a similar struggle, learn more about a specific issue, and hear about resources for help.
Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, support groups continue to meet virtually via Zoom. All you need to do is preregister.
The staff at Fertility Solutions is always here to help you with your fertility needs. Please contact your fertility specialist for more information about fertility support groups and how they can benefit you.