Texas Fertility Center has initiated a peer support group that was developed to help couples and individuals trying to conceive cope with the struggles fertility treatments can often cause. The goal is to help patients find “friends” going through infertility treatments and give them an outlet to discuss their feelings with others who understand what they are going through. Infertility is a difficult process and one that many people don’t feel comfortable talking about. Many people feel like it is difficult to talk to others about infertility, especially if they haven’t been through it themselves.
Not talking about infertility treatments can make the experience that much more painful and difficult. A survey conducted by Schering Plough (self) showed that 61% of patients hide the struggle of trying to get pregnant from their family and friends. More than half of the patients, in the survey, reported that it was easier to tell people that they didn’t intend to start their family rather than explain their fertility struggles.
The purpose of our support group is to encourage people to help break the silence surrounding infertility. A study from Harvard Medical School in Boston shows that women who have difficulty getting pregnant can be as depressed as those with major heart problems and cancers (self). The support group will afford couples and individuals the opportunity to meet others experiencing similar struggles in trying to build their families.
Speaking with patients, trying to conceive every day, and having dealt with infertility myself, has made me realize that patients need a group of people to talk with that understand what they are going through. I didn’t want to discuss my fertility with my mom or my best girlfriends because they have never experienced infertility and did not truly understand what I was going through. It is nice that we now have a group in place that gives people the chance to talk with others who can relate to them. Patients also don’t feel so isolated and like this is only affecting them and no one else.
The other great thing about the support group is that there are nurses (myself and Kelli Long) present to help answer any clinical and IVF questions that may arise and also rule out many misconceptions associated with infertility treatments. Eventually we would like to have previous patients who have been successful come to speak at the end of the meetings to give patients legitimate hope for the future.
Our hope is to give patients an outlet to be able to open up and share their feelings about infertility. We don’t want people to feel isolated in their endeavor to start a family. Our group gives patients an opportunity to meet others who are going through the same processes. We are very passionate about the support group and feel as though it allows patients to really understand that, unlike how they may feel in other offices, they are not just “a number” at our office. We share many of the same emotions with our patients as they are going through the process. We feel their pain and their joys right along with them. This is a way for our patients to see this first hand and to get to know us a little bit better as well.
The Peer Support Group meets the third Wednesday of each month at the Jewish Community Center (7300 Hart Lane Austin, TX 78731 Room 226 in the Jewish Academy next to the Community Hall on the 2nd floor.) from 6:30-8:00 pm.