Infertility Support Group - part of Cana Movement
The Infertility Support Group was set up in February 2001 for those couples or individuals who are going through the physical, emotional and spiritual struggle brought about by the inability to have a child.
Why this group
The main aims of the group are to:
- increase awareness of the infertility problem in both men and women;
- offer solidarity, friendship, hope and encouragement to couples who are going through what, in some circumstances, can be very traumatic experiences. It is often difficult to talk to family and friends about this condition as they do not and cannot fully understand what the couple is going through;
- bring together people who share common experiences and problems pertaining to infertility. Along with sharing comes understanding, acceptance and a sense of belonging;
- offer informal support and information through regular meetings, a library service and talks by professionals.
It helps a lot
It is a fact that the coming together of people in trouble serves to increase self esteem, decrease anxiety and depression, and raise levels of overall well being.
According to a study made in U.S.A., funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health, pregnancy rates are higher among infertile women who receive cognitive-behavioural therapy or participate in a support group than among women who receive only routine care.
A study carried out by Dr. A.D. Domar and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, studied 185 women who had been trying to conceive for one to two years. The researchers randomly assigned each woman either to receive routine care, or to attend 10 sessions of group cognitive-behavioural therapy, or to attend 10 support group meetings. Cognitive-behavioural sessions included relaxation training, numerous stress-management strategies, and nutritional and exercise advice.
Support sessions focussed on different aspects of the infertility experience, including the impact of infertility on self-esteem, marriage, job and family. The researchers determined that within one year, 28% of those receiving only routine care, 76.1% of those attending the cognitive therapy group, and 68.3% of those attending the support group, became pregnant. 'There apprears to be a connection between psychological intervention and viable pregnancies in infertile women' says the study.
Those interested are welcome
Any couple or person who wishes to join this support group may contact the Cana Movement, Catholic Institute, Floriana. Contact telephone numbers and addresses appear at the beginning of this page.
The following information is a guide to promote public awareness in support of people with infertility problems.
The desire to have a child can be so strong that an infertile couple often goes to great lengths to try and get pregnant. Infertility affects every aspect of one's life:
It affects the relationship between husband and wife because men and women do not respond to infertility in the same way.
It affects their sex life because they are told when they can and cannot have intercourse.
It affects relationships with friends and family.
It affects jobs, because they have to absent themselves in order to carry out medical investigations and interventions.
It affects one's self-esteem.
It can lead one into physical, emotional, spiritual and financial crisis.
A caring attitude
A caring attitude from family, friends and the public in general can make all the difference to infertile couples and how they are able to deal with their problem. One can understand the difficulty for people who have not been in the same situation to understand and predict what is the right or wrong thing to say. This information is prepared by members of the Infertility Support Group in order to communicate their needs to those who wish to help.
If the couple tell their friends and relatives that there exists the problem of infertility, then these should show interest and ask questions regarding the investigations, treatment, how they are feeling etc. It is preferable that they ask questions rather than say nothing for fear of upsetting the couple as otherwise they may give the impression that they do not care.
Acceptance and Advice
If the couple admit that there is a problem of infertility, then this should be accepted by their relatives and friends. They may already have been trying for a baby for many months or years. Dismissing their problems by saying "it is only a matter of time" or "you are under a lot of stress" does not help. Any form of unprofessional advice (such as "try and relax" or "take a holiday because you are too stressed") may only make the couple feel that they are to blame, which in fact is not true. Advice and reasons to the problem should only be left for medics.
Relatives and friends should be careful on the choice of words to express their encouragement. Trying to reassure the couple that they will succeed is rather unrealistic. Nobody knows if or when an infertile couple will succeed.
It may be tempting to try and encourage the couple in this way because of a possible acquaintance of yours who succeeded in having a child after an infertile period of a number of years. However, it is good to remember that there are couples who, in spite of advanced and prolonged treatment, never achieve a successful pregnancy.
You can encourage the couple by saying that you hope a solution will be found. Also, by reassuring the couple that they are accepted as they are even if they never succeed in having a child. They are not to blame.
Infertility is like experiencing the loss of someone dear. Just as sympathy is appropriate in bereavement, so it is in infertility. Infertile couples realize what they have lost with each failed cycle and when they look at other couples with their families. The grieving process is long as the couple usually cannot come to terms with their loss until they are satisfied that they have tried all options that they are prepared to undergo or that they can afford.
Infertility is one of the most cruel experiences a couple can face. Trying to cheer them up by telling them that things could be worse or how lucky they are not to have the responsibility of a family, for example, may make them think that you regard their problem as trivial or that they are making a fuss on the situation. Offering a sympathetic, listening ear is probably the most supportive thing one can do.
Other people's pregnancies and families
It is unrealistic to try and "protect" the infertile couple from any news or sights of a pregnant woman or a new born baby. Having babies is a natural process in most couples. Most infertile people hate being left out from other people's wonderful news of a new pregnancy. The fact, that they cannot achieve a pregnancy themselves does not make them unable to be happy for others. They may need some time to get used to the idea. They may also want to be spared of the intricate details of the pregnancy, but definitely they do not want to be left out.
Some infertile couples are glad to involve themselves with other people's children. Others may find contact with children and pregnant women a painful reminder of their inability to have a child. Therefore, when it comes to social gatherings with other families, it is better to let the couple decide if they want to join in or not.
Infertility is regarded as a tremendous failure by some couples and it erodes their self-esteem. They may not wish to admit their problem or may only want close relatives and friends to know. Others may want all those around them to know so as to prevent any hurtful comments or situations. We ask all to respect the couple's wishes in this regard.
For granted questions
In parties or re-unions of old acquaintances, it is common to hear the following questions: "Did you marry?" which is immediately followed by "Have you got children?" or "How many children have you got?" This is also heard in radio and T.V. phone-ins. Such questions should never be put as it only aggravates or rekindles the great pain a couple experiences. Even though most couples do have children, it should not be taken for-granted that all couples do so. Questions like these only tend to make the couple feel abnormal.
Conferences and public addresses
People who are addressing the public in general, should take care on how to address issues such as motherhood. For example, it is common practice for clergyman to elaborate on the theme of motherhood as being a gift from God. What about those who are childless? Do they not equally deserve this gift? Some have even gone to the extreme and ask all mothers present to stand up during Mother's Day communal celebrations! This only makes the childless person even more conspicuous!
An infertile couple may pass a joke related to their problem when they feel they are ready to do so. However, it is important that relatives and friends do not initiate any jokes on infertility themselves, as they can never be sure how the couple will be affected.
WAW Contact Information
Should you require further information on WAW - Infertility Support Group, please do not hesitate to call the Cana Movement.
Further information :
The Infertility Support Group
c/o Cana Movement
Tel: 21238068, 21238942.