You are not alone

One of the most difficult things about living with fertility problems is the loneliness and isolation you can feel as everyone around you seems to be getting pregnant effortlessly. If you don’t tell other people what you are going through, you get questions about when you are going to have children and warnings that you don’t want to leave it too late. If you do tell people, you can end up with lots of advice you could do without (“why don’t you just relax/get a dog/go on holiday…”).

Last night, I facilitated a fertility group for the charity Fertility Network UK in South East London and it really struck me, as it does every time we meet, how beneficial it can be to spend some time with other people who really understand how you are feeling and who know what it is like. Fertility Network has groups meeting across the UK, mainly run by volunteers like me, which offer a haven for anyone experiencing fertility problems. It’s a unique opportunity to be with people who share similar experiences and to be able to talk openly and honestly about how you are feeling.

It’s National Fertility Week and there’s lots of work going on to raise awareness about many important fertility-related issues, but one of the most important messages for me is that you don’t need to go through this alone. There are opportunities to meet other people who can offer support, and the groups aren’t miserable or depressing, but rather an opportunity to help yourself to feel less lonely. There are 3.5 million people living with fertility problems in the UK and meeting some of the others may be just what you need.

Feeling lonely

93px-Depression-loss_of_loved_oneOne of the worst things about infertility is the isolation that it brings – if your friends and colleagues all seem to be getting pregnant and having babies, you may feel you are part of a shrinking circle of people without children.  You may start to find that when you go out with a group of your friends, the conversation soon turns to birth plans or weaning – not only do you not have anything to say, it’s also yet another reminder that you don’t have what you most want.

How to combat isolation

One of the best ways to deal with this sense of loneliness is to get together with other people who are going through similar experiences and who will understand exactly how you feel. You may want to do this through an online forum, such as Infertility Network UK‘s Health Unlocked or Fertility Friends, or you may want to actually meet up with other people – and again Infertility Network UK can help with get-togethers across the country.

You may be surprised how much difference it can make to talk to other people and share experiences – and this kind of support can give you strength and resolve as you go through tests and treatment. There’s nothing to lose by giving it a try, and everything to gain. You can find a list of free get-togethers around the UK here