How to find an infertility support group

Infertility Support Groups

4 min read

Experiencing infertility can bring on complicated emotions—feelings of loneliness, grief and isolation are common. You may find that your typical support network of friends and family suddenly feels inadequate, either because they haven’t lived a similar experience or they’re too personally invested in your journey. As stressful as this may be, it’s normal, and there are places to turn if you’re in need of emotional support.

Why is having support important during the TTC journey?

Leaning on others in the infertility community or seeking out care from a therapist specialized in fertility can be a positive and impactful way to help you sort through the challenges you’re facing. “Many people begin counselling when they feel at their lowest, but going to therapy before that point means an opportunity to build positive coping strategies to manage the stress and anxiety that comes with infertility,” says Ariel Taylor, therapist and owner of Carried With Love, a specialized fertility therapy practice. “Your therapist should be part of your team right from the start.”

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Don’t worry if you’re further along in your journey—there’s no bad time to prioritize your mental and emotional health. Whether you’re in the early stages of trying to conceive or you’re a seasoned fertility clinic warrior, trying to have a baby can be filled with anxiety and stress. Bottling these feeling up or relying solely on your partner as your emotional support person, is unhealthy. Outside perspective can help you and your partner manage expectations, communicate better to one another and process the highs and lows of your journey.

What are the benefits of connecting with others going through similar experiences?

A lack of education, awareness and transparency around infertility contributes to many people avoiding sharing their specific challenges and diagnoses. This in turn can make it difficult to compare experiences or to feel prepared at an appointment with your doctor. This is where seeking out others with the same experience as you can play a critical role in your patient experience. Not only can they understand some of what you’re going through, they can also help to answer questions and offer perspective from their own experience. (Just remember that no two experiences are the same; allow it to inform your understanding but don’t take someone else’s experience as gospel.)

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A young person with Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH, a disorder affecting the female reproductive system), for example, may have questions about how an egg retrieval will differ for them due to that diagnosis. By connecting with other people with MRKH, they can build a list of thoughtful questions to take to their doctor, streamlining appointments and getting the best possible care. Building these connections early and learning through others offers a starting point for questions and context for the infertility space—both of which can be incredibly useful in streamlining your path to the appropriate care.

How do you find support?

So, you’ve decided you’d like to connect with others—where do you find these patient-support groups? There are plenty of options: in-person groups, online groups, phone calls or video calls. These groups can also be extremely specific (focused on a particular diagnosis, clinic or doctor) or broad (focused on IVF, surrogacy, donor gametes or even grouped by region). Some groups are patient-led where others are sponsored by clinics or fertility-focused organizations.

If you’re looking for patient-led support, a great place to begin your search is Facebook. Many of these groups allow for anonymous posts, so you can feel comfortable asking questions without your profile connected to them. If you’d prefer to stick to an infertility group that is run by your clinic or a fertility organization in your area, ask your clinic about resources that they recommend. If they have a bulletin board, you can often find details of regularly scheduled calls posted there.

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No matter how you find a group, know that you’ll be embraced warmly. The infertility community at large, and specifically online fertility support groups, are filled with people just like you: individuals looking for compassion, resource sharing and support. The friendships you can make through these groups may even surprise you.  

When should you seek out individual support, a.k.a., therapy?

As valuable as support groups and friendships within the TTC community are, remember that they don’t replace professional support. Therapy remains an important tool you can use in your infertility journey. “Peer support is incredibly important, but friends and family may not have the capacity to take on your emotional needs or may not know what to say—or worse, they may say the wrong things which could be hurtful,” she Taylor, adding that seeking out a therapist with a specialization in fertility means you won’t need to bring them up to speed on things like how fertility procedures work or how different medications you are on may impact you. Depending on your insurance plan, you may even have coverage to help you access this type of specialized care.
Building a community of support around you during your fertility journey can help you to be the best version of yourself. Remember – even when you feel alone in this, there are others walking a similar path, you just need to find them.