Infertility is still a topic that isn’t discussed often enough, so not many understand what it is like to struggle with infertility. At times, many are met with unsolicited advice or with comments that can unintentionally invalidate or hurt feelings. That is why every year, National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) aims to empower and build a community of support for those enduring infertility challenges. Wondering how and where you can find support? Read to find out what support systems await you on your fertility journey.
Close Friend or Family Member
Opening up to a trusted friend or loved one can be a difficult task. It is important to remember that even the wisest of people in your social circle may stumble and unintentionally say a hurtful comment. Boundaries help safeguard our feelings while expressing our feelings to the fullest, so we do not bottle them up.
Some tips that may be helpful for you when speaking about infertility can be:
Choose how much you share: Before sharing your fertility journey, sit with yourself first to solidify what feels comfortable for you to share. If you have a partner, possibly express to them that you would like to share with the friend/loved one for a second opinion. Keep in mind that you do not have to share the same information with everyone. You may feel more inclined to tell more to another person you feel safer with. How you allocate the information is a decision that belongs to you.
Communicate how your friend/loved one can be there for you: Listen, advise, affirm. These are some of the ways that you can ask your close one to be present for you when expressing your feelings. Beginning the conversation with an expression such as “can you be here for me by listening to me” or “Could you please remind me that my feelings are valid?” would be helpful for that person.
Decide on a time to speak: One of the most disappointing occurrences that can take place when sharing your emotions can be when you feel rushed. When we feel pressured to say it all at once in a short period of time, it can feel disingenuous and your emotional needs may not be met. If you are ready to finally express yourself to a reliable source, schedule a time with them to do so when they have a lengthy amount of time to dedicate to you.
Therapist or Counselor
Seeking professional counseling on your fertility journey can be beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being. There is a wide range of therapists who specialize in infertility to help those suffering cope.
Some considerations to keep in mind when searching for a fertility therapist include:
Determine if an infertility coach or an infertility therapist is right for you: There is a difference between someone who is labeled an “infertility coach” and an “infertility therapist”.
An infertility coach is typically focused on providing emotional and practical support to those trying to conceive. They may offer advice on lifestyle changes such as exercise and nutrition and help individuals navigate the complexities of infertility. While they may not be licensed healthcare professionals, their expertise can be helpful in managing the emotional toll of infertility.
In contrast, an infertility therapist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in helping individuals or couples who are struggling with infertility. Infertility therapists use their formal training in mental health to help individuals cope with the emotional challenges of infertility, such as anxiety, depression, and grief. They may employ a variety of therapeutic techniques to help individuals manage their emotions and improve their overall well-being.
Ask your doctor for any recommendations: A majority of general practitioners or obstetricians have a wide network of colleagues. Simply asking your doctor if they know of a mental health professional can take the stress out of finding a reputable source.
Double-check to see if they are licensed: There are many resources available for those seeking mental health assistance and now because of the internet, help is easily accessible. Once you have identified what characteristics you are looking for in an infertility therapist it’s important to establish whether they have the credentials.
Look into the ASMR database: The American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health (ASMR) Professionals database has an expansive directory of counselors and therapists who specialize in infertility. Through this database, people can cater their search for an infertility therapist by state, city, or name of a counselor.
Infertility Support Groups
Joining an infertility support group can be incredibly beneficial for those struggling with infertility. Infertility can be a very isolating and emotionally exhausting experience. Support groups can provide a safe space to connect with others who are facing the same fertility challenges. These groups can offer emotional support, practical advice, and a sense of community. They can also provide a space for individuals to express their feelings and concerns without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. Support groups can also offer opportunities to learn coping skills and gain a greater sense of control over the infertility journey.
The Importance of Finding Support
Trying to conceive without success can be incredibly stressful and can lead to feelings of hopelessness. Infertility treatments can also weigh on someone physically and emotionally. National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) strives to encourage those suffering from infertility woes to seek the help they deserve.
Our goal at Reproductive Fertility Center is to provide as many resources, education, and treatments as possible for our patients. If you or your partner are interested in learning more about how to grow your family, contact our expert team members today. Infertility is a path you do not have to walk alone in, call us for more information.