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If you are struggling with infertility, should you join a fertility support group? As you ponder over this, it is necessary to be aware that 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. 

If you think about it, you would agree that a large part of the difficulty in having an infertility issue is the challenge of facing everyday experiences that were once easy but are now emotionally difficult. 

Routine activities such as responding 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 you need treatment.

This stress affects both women and men and can be particularly trying on relationships. Fortunately, one of the best options that you can resort to for relief is a fertility support group.

Joining a fertility support group can be a great way to cope with infertility. Finding support when dealing with infertility is important, but not always easy. Friends and family can provide some support, but even the very best of friends can’t truly understand what you are going through without having experienced infertility personally.

Infertility is not an easy situation to deal with. You may feel social pressure to have children or feel judgment from well-meaning friends, family members, or even strangers. Some may offer tips that are not all that helpful or suggest that your anxiety is somewhat to blame.

Also, you may be plagued by feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, or failure that interfere with both your quality of life and the quality of your relationship.

The one way to help yourself is to acknowledge your feelings and identify the things that are causing you the most stress. By doing so, you can begin to build coping strategies to better overcome these feelings.

A fertility support group will help you to cope in this regard. It enables you to remove your inhibitions. 

A support group can provide a place where couples can meet and speak with people who do understand. It provides compassionate support and information to people who are experiencing infertility. 

Essentially, a fertility support group can vary in focus and may 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.

In Nigeria and elsewhere, there are different kinds of fertility support groups and while the focus is not essentially about providing financial support to infertile couples, the essence is to let you know that you are not alone, and it provides a platform where you can meet others with who you can share your challenges and potentially obtain information and/assistance for a solution.

To start off, you need to know which fertility support group is suitable for you. Deciding whether or not a support group is right for you will depend on your individual experience with infertility. 

Many individuals and couples 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. But this is not true; joining a support group does not mean you are seeking professional therapy. The support groups are designed to offer a warm, welcoming environment for 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 or compulsion to explain anything that you find too painful or personal to discuss. You can always find a group near you. Whether you are newly diagnosed or have been struggling with infertility for a while, there are 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 the 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.

If you join a suitable support group, you stand to benefit from the experienced members inside information on the world of infertility, including the emotional support. 

You would  learn a lot about what your options are for future treatment, which will give you a lot of hope. But mostly, it is a place you can go to every week and talk about your issues. 

Such groups help relieve stress in your marriage. The group sessions are led by a professional counselor, but they aren’t group therapy. The counselor is just there to help facilitate conversation and help maintain healthy boundaries in the group. Groups are either for women or couples and are limited in size, to provide enough time for everyone to talk.

Topics for a general couples group typically include stress reduction, self-care, anger, and depression, dealing with family and friends, impact on your relationship, medical options, third-party reproduction, adoption, and childfree living. 

Sometimes groups form and focus on specific topics like adoption or third party reproduction.

You are encouraged to connect with each other during the week between meetings. 

You may be struggling with the idea of joining a support group, but if you can get past your reservations, you’ll be glad you did.

If you are just starting in treatment but don’t want to join an ‘infertility’ group, you should be aware that it can be quite helpful to participate so that you get the support and information you need. If you’re having a hard time coping with infertility, you are not alone. Research has shown that the psychological stress experienced by women with infertility is similar to that of women coping with illnesses such as cancer, HIV, and chronic pain. 

Studies have also found that men are at risk for anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, and decreased self-esteem. These psychological effects may occur regardless of who is infertile, whether the couple is facing male infertility, female factor infertility, both male and female infertility, or unexplained causes.

More often than not, the emotions associated with infertility are not caused by one thing and one thing alone. They are often tangled in expectations from inside and outside.

Being open about infertility and seeking support from the outside can help both men and women cope with emotional distress. Sometimes, the best place to find support is your spouse, but this is not always the case. The accumulated pressure you may both be feeling can make it difficult to sort out your emotions together. Seeking support from outside the relationship can be beneficial to you both.

Support groups are really helpful, allowing you to voice feelings and thoughts you’ve been unable to share elsewhere, and receive understanding from those who have truly been there.

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