Managing infertility can be a really hard when you feel like you’re all alone in the process. Even though 1 in 8 couples experiences infertility, many don’t talk about it, so fertility issues can feel very isolating. Thankfully, there are several face-to-face and online infertility support groups available that can make a difficult fertility journey a little bit easier.
The support for infertility I wish I’d had
When it comes to my own experience with infertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF), I don’t have many regrets about how we handled the process. We did what we had to do and took things one step at a time until we’d finally reached the moment we’d been desperately seeking – a positive pregnancy test.
If I had to name one thing I’d do differently, however, it would be the fact that I didn’t seek out more support for infertility throughout our treatment cycles.
While we made the decision not to discuss our experiences with most of our family and friends, I wish had explored other support networks that were available to me, like attending group meetings or online support groups.
Infertility support groups would have been an extraordinary benefit, full of women who really “get it” sharing their stories about fertility treatments.
The thought of opening up to a collection of strangers might seem overwhelming, but many people find support in local fertility groups or online communities.
Rather than looking at members of a support group as people you don’t know, consider an infertility support forum for what it truly is – a gathering of people who have experienced infertility who can helpfully share their stories to the benefit of others.
In infertility support groups, you can learn about things friends and family members can’t necessarily help with, such as:
- What should you expect when visiting a fertility specialist?
- What aspects of infertility do people wish others had told them about?
You can also find support networks specific to your problems, like IVF support forums, groups for couples struggling with male-factor infertility, and more.
Should I join an infertility support group?
While joining a support forum isn’t a prerequisite to infertility treatments, these groups can be helpful to people who need them.
You’re probably wondering– how do I know if I’m one of the people who needs additional support for infertility?
While there’s no definitive answer to this question (though we certainly wish there were), there are helpful questions you can ask yourself.
Your answers to these questions can help you decide whether you could benefit from locally-run or online fertility support groups:
- Do you feel alone in your infertility journey?
- Do you have anyone other than your partner who can provide you with emotional support?
- Are your struggles with infertility affecting your job?
- Do you feel surrounded by people who are currently pregnant or who have children?
- Are you having a difficult time deciding whether to stop infertility treatments?
- Are get-togethers with family and friends becoming difficult to bear?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these questions, there’s a good chance you might benefit from joining an infertility support group or forum.
What are the most common reasons people join infertility support groups?
As with pregnancy, in general, no two infertility experiences are exactly alike.
People find themselves looking into local groups and infertility support forums for a variety of different reasons. The groups themselves vary greatly, as well.
Depending on your individual needs, it’s important to find a group that feels right to you. When you’re trying to pick, a good place to start is by examining the reasons you’re looking for additional infertility support in the first place.
Some of the most common reasons people join infertility support groups include:
- Pregnancy loss
- Making decisions about your infertility journey
- Ending infertility treatment
Perhaps you’ve suffered your 4th miscarriage in a row, or you’ve finally received a positive test and it turned out to be a chemical pregnancy.
Losses like these can be devastating.
If you’re struggling emotionally after a significant pregnancy loss or stillbirth, surrounding yourself with people who share your experiences can be helpful.
Your family and friends might not understand what you’re going through or know how to support you. The members of a miscarriage support group, however, will recognize what you’re feeling and how you might best move forward.
Making big decisions about your infertility
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a universal solution to infertility? I, for one, would love a magic button we could press to fix our conception problems!
Unfortunately, though, treating infertility is not one-size-fits-all.
If standard treatment options like IUI or IVF fail to work for your family, there are other alternatives you might consider.
Choosing one of these options, however, might be easier said than done.
If you’re trying to choose between treatments like sperm donation, using donor eggs, or adoption, for instance, discussing the options with someone who’s been in your shoes can help you make an educated decision you feel confident in.
Ending Infertility Treatment
I vividly remember waiting for an appointment one day and speaking with a woman who was preparing for her 11th IVF cycle.
She admitted that they’d taken out a second mortgage on their home just to afford treatments, but she had never even had a positive pregnancy test.
That 11th cycle was their final attempt at getting pregnant.
I climbed into the car that day and asked my husband what our “line” was. How much of ourselves, mentally, physically, and financially, were we willing and able to give to get pregnant?
Thankfully for me, I received the positive pregnancy tests I’d been hoping for more quickly than I anticipated.
Not everyone, of course, is so lucky.
Trying to decide whether you’re ready and willing to stop treatments is a complicated choice. Many people dream of the day they will become parents, and letting go of that dream is heart-wrenching.
Infertility support groups can be the safe space you need to weigh your options and find kindness and encouragement no matter which choice you eventually make.
What are the benefits of joining an infertility support forum or group?
If you’re wondering whether infertility support groups are right for you, it can be helpful to understand the benefits that can come from these types of in-person and online organizations.
For starters, these types of groups can offer a much-needed sense of community. Attempting to battle with infertility alone, or with just your partner for support, can feel daunting.
The larger your tribe of supporters, the stronger you will feel about overcoming your struggles with infertility.
Two of the other key benefits attributed to infertility support groups involve opportunities to better understand what you’re dealing with.
Not only can a supportive group teach you the necessary coping skills that will guide you through your treatment cycles and experience, but you will also learn valuable information about things, such as:
- Different treatment protocols
- Potential side effects
- Tips on balancing your work life & doctors’ appointments
- Plus, many more
What types of infertility support groups are available?
Depending on the type of support for infertility you’re looking for, there are a few different platforms for you to consider.
Local in-person support groups
If you prefer the idea of in-person meetings, doing a simple Google search should yield great results on infertility support groups in your community. Another great option is to search on Resolve’s website.
While certified counselors may lead some of these meetings, many are peer-led groups.
Infertility Facebook groups
For many of us, a decent portion of our lives exists on social media.
Whether you’re shopping, crafting, or catching up with friends, Facebook has become a conglomerate within the social media world. It’s no surprise that there are several infertility Facebook groups available to help people looking for support.
If you’re trying to find a group, you can always start with a simple search.
It’s also a good idea to speak with your fertility clinic to see if they have any sort of Facebook group you can join. For example, my own clinic has started a beautiful Facebook community called the “Miracle Mom Squad.”
It’s an excellent way for us to stay abreast of the latest news at the clinic and to speak with fellow patients who have graduated from treatment or are still in the middle of their infertility journeys.
The group even offers a mentor program for incoming patients who are trying to get started on their treatment process.
Online Fertility Support Groups
If you’d rather join one of the online fertility support groups or an infertility support forum that exists outside of Facebook, you should check out the popular options hosted through Resolve and The Bump.
Many people also find tremendous infertility support on Instagram using hashtags like #infertilitysupport, #infertilitycommunity, and #ivfgotthis.
This beautiful image from @bodylymespirit, posted for National Infertility Awareness Week, shows the kind of lovely support you can find online.
What happens when you graduate from an infertility support group?
A gut-wrenching reality of infertility is the challenging emotions that can come from someone else’s pregnancy news.
For example, when I silently waged war against my own infertility, I saw numerous people posting their joyful announcements online.
I wanted to be happy for other people who were pregnant. I wanted to celebrate their incredible news. What I felt more than anything else, however, was often jealousy and occasionally resentment.
This isn’t something I’m proud of, but sadly, it can be a normal part of infertility.
When you’re a part of an infertility support group, everyone is on the same page.
You’re all fighting so hard for the same beautiful outcomes. Regretfully, however, not every person will achieve their goal at the same time.
Managing pregnancy within a support group
If you become pregnant and it’s time to “graduate” from your infertility support forums or groups, it can be difficult to share the news with the other members.
While it’s important to prepare yourself for some disappointment or ill-feelings, it’s also crucial to remember that these people have seen you through your battle.
They want the best for you, just as you want it for them.
And keep in mind, just because you’re pregnant, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your group behind. Stay with them and help guide new members through the process, if that’s something that speaks to you.
The “Miracle Mom Squad” I previously mentioned, for instance, are big supporters of staying with the group, even after a baby has arrived.
Do what feels right for you.
For me, personally, I have found so much joy in speaking with other hopeful parents and lending them a listening ear when they need it. We all know how beneficial support is throughout the process.
Plus, it always helps to have positive IVF journey stories to look towards optimistically for inspiration.
Choosing right type of support for infertility
Maybe you’re interested in online fertility support groups? Or, perhaps you don’t feel like you need additional support at all?
Either way, don’t feel pressured to do anything you’re not ready to do.
While there are certainly benefits found in infertility support groups, they may not be the right choice for everyone.
If you want to give them a try, however, don’t be afraid to jump around a little bit.
Find a group of people that fits into what you need.
Finding the right support group is much like finding the right therapist. It’s important to find the right fit.
At the end of the day, all that matters is you being confident in the choices you make, and feeling supported throughout your infertility treatment journey.
Have you considered joining an infertility support group?
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Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.