At any given time, there are around 3.5 million people in the UK who are having problems getting pregnant, but it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re trying unsuccessfully to conceive. Infertility is lonely and isolating, and it’s very common to start to feel cut off from friends and family. You may worry that you’re the only one who feels this way when you find yourself dreading pregnancy announcements or avoiding events where there are bound to be lots of children. Many of us end up feeling almost ashamed about our fertility problems, and there can be a sense of guilt too and worry that maybe we’re somehow responsible for what is happening to us. Infertility can erode our self-confidence and leave us feeling depressed and miserable, but there are things you can do to help yourself get through it.
The more you know about your fertility and treatment, the easier it is to cope. When I went through IVF for the first time, there was very little information available about what it would be like to have treatment from the patient perspective, and that’s why I started writing books about it! Now, there’s a huge range of sources of information and advice, and making sure that you are well-informed can make all the difference. If you’re having IVF, do take a look at my book The Complete Guide to IVF which is a simple guide to the basics of what’s involved and includes the experiences of lots of people who’ve been through treatment.
The other key tip for coping is to seek out others who are experiencing similar problems. You may feel you aren’t ready to open up to people you don’t know, but it can be so helpful to be in a roomful of others who know just how you are feeling. Some clinics run support groups and the charity Infertility Network UK http://www.infertilitynetworkuk.com/ have many of their own too. If you don’t want to meet people in the flesh, talking to one another in one of the many online forums can be incredibly helpful too.
Perhaps most important of all, do remember that infertility isn’t easy. No one sails through fertility problems and treatment in a calm, relaxed state. Infertility makes you feel stressed, and it’s inevitable that at times you will find it tough going. Try to find space to do some of the things you’ve always enjoyed, and don’t force yourself to go to social functions that you know are going to be difficult. Above all, be kind to yourself – you’re going through a difficult time, and you deserve it.
Kate Brian on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/katebrian