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Infertility Support Groups
Infertility can be a lonely experience when friends are having children and you are still trying. People who mean to be supportive often say the most unhelpful things. But you probably know that – you’re probably frustrated (or angry or sad) each time you get invited to a baby shower; and most likely you’ve been on the receiving end of those “just relax” comments. So joining a group where your feelings and frustrations will be understood, and where you’ll become empowered as a patient, may be just what you need.
People in individual or couple’s therapy may join a group as well because they want support from others having the same experiences.
Types of Groups
Support groups can take many forms. In most cases, a mental health professional leads the group and helps keep the discussion focused. Some groups are for women or men only; some are for couples. They often meet weekly, for a set number of weeks, and for a set amount of time – an hour to an hour and a half is common. A typical group size is six to eight individuals or four to six couples, but that can vary.
Other groups are “drop-in” in nature; members attend as they wish, and there is no professional leader.
Both groups serve different purposes. In the professionally-led groups, deeper levels of discussion are possible, and as trust builds members bond. Often, after the group officially ends, they continue to meet without a group leader. Drop-in groups are a good place to network and learn about resources in your area.
Mind-body groups, which integrate relaxation and stress management strategies along with cognitive restructuring, are not traditional support groups, but are gaining popularity.
A 1999 study reported that the depression and anxiety rates for women in either a professionally-led support group or in a mind-body group were greatly reduced compared to the women who were not in a group. In addition, the conception rates were 54 percent for the support group participants and 55 percent for the mind-body group participants, compared to the 22 percent conception rate of those who were not in a group within the same period.