Are fertility problems making you feel lonely?
Most people who have difficulty getting pregnant find that they feel lonely at some point during their fertility journeys. Perhaps it’s inevitable that you will experience a sense of distance from friends who have had children easily and who have immersed themselves in family life, perhaps it’s not surprising that you won’t always feel as comfortable around pregnant colleagues, relatives or friends.
It may help if you begin by understanding that these feelings are a very natural response to what you are experiencing. When you are longing for a child of your own, you may find that your friendships begin to change if your those around you are getting pregnant and having babies. Their focus and their interests may shift and you may not be as close as you were to people whose own lives have changed in ways that yours hasn’t. This doesn’t mean that your friendships are over for ever, but it’s often harder to cope with pregnant friends than parent friends, and that can start to feel lonely.
No one else is going through this
You may find that you don’t seem to know anyone else who is experiencing fertility problems if none of your immediate circle of friends, family or colleagues seem to have any trouble conceiving. The reality may be quite different. We know that around one in six of the population will have difficulty getting pregnant, so the chances of you not knowing anyone at all who has been through this themselves are actually fairly slim. What is quite possible is that they haven’t told anyone about this. There may be any number of reasons why – many people find it difficult to talk about, others value their privacy about such a personal matter, they may not want people to feel sorry for them or may fear being judged. Infertility still carries a sense of stigma and not everyone wants to share their problems with those around them. Of course, you may not have told anyone yourself – in which case, there may be others around you who assume that you just aren’t ready for children yet or haven’t thought about it.
Why talking can help
One positive effect of talking about your difficulty conceiving, if you feel able to, is that you may find other people will suddenly start talking to you about their own experiences. Sometimes these can surprise you as people who you’ve thought were uninterested in having children or focused on their careers may be going through IVF, or it may be that older family members reveal a history of pregnancy losses that you’d never known about. Making new links in this way and building friendships with people who understand can be so helpful.
Talking to a professional may also be a good idea. Experienced fertility counsellors or therapists are familiar with the issues of isolation that can arise and will be able to offer support through this. You may feel that you don’t need to take up your clinic’s offer of counselling, but it is never a bad idea to get all the help that you can to help you during treatment.
New friendships don’t have to be limited to your existing circle. Joining a fertility support group or an online fertility forum can be an excellent way to meet others who are going through fertility tests and treatment. Even if you don’t think these are your kind of thing, giving them a try may yield surprisingly positive results as just making contact and sharing experiences is valuable.
It is only natural to feel lonely now and then on your fertility journey, but remember that there are many millions of others around the globe who are living with fertility problems and who are probably feeling isolated too. Wherever you may be, send a caring thought to them and be heartened by the fact that someone is sending one back to you.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.
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