The news that you are infertile may come as the confirmation of a secret fear, or it may come as a total shock. The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone—infertility is more common than most people realize. According to the National Infertility Association, “one in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age has trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy.”
The second thing you need to know is that every person responds to the news differently and that whatever you are feeling (shock, anger, fear, guilt, despair, relief) is valid. There is no universal way you “should be” or “should not be” feeling or responding to the news. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are just plain wrong!
The third thing you need to know is that there is help. Here are some tips that therapists recommended for coping with infertility.
First, take some time privately to deal with your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Journaling can be a good way to do this, as it allows you to express yourself honestly without being worried about other people’s reactions, perceptions, or judgements. Then, when you’re ready and feel comfortable, share some of your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, like a close friend or family member. Keep in mind that it can sometimes be difficult for people who have never wanted to start a family or experienced infertility to understand exactly what you are going through.
This is where seeking advice and support from other individuals who have experienced infertility comes in. If you don’t personally know any people who have struggled with infertility, that’s ok; there are numerous online resources for infertility, including message boards and support groups. One of these is FertilityTies.com, “a community where you can get medical information and peer support from others in similar situations.” Also, if you’re comfortable using social media to seek advice and support, you may find that you know more people who have dealt with infertility than you thought (friends, friends of friends, that kind of thing).
Another wonderful resource if you’re looking for infertility support groups is through the National Infertility Association. RESOLVE Support Groups are free and they offer two types of groups, peer-led support groups and professionally-led support groups. Peer-led groups are facilitated by volunteers, not by a professional counselor, and typically last about two hours per group. Professionally-led support groups are facilitated by a mental health professional and are more structured (weekly sessions for 10-12 weeks, specific topics discussed, limited to a small amount of individuals or couples).
To find RESOLVE support groups in your area, click on the following link: http://www.resolve.org/support/support-group/support-groups-list.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Finally, speaking of professionals…it is never a bad idea to seek the help of a licensed mental health professional in coping with the news that you are infertile, especially if you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or just feel that you could benefit from professional guidance. Infertility is an incredibly difficult thing to process, but no matter what it’s important to remember that you are not alone.
Written by: Margaret Durkovic