Infertility is real. And it’s tough. It’s the exhausting daily battle of a war no one asks to be part of. Yet we are, and fighting becomes all we know. We fight for fair treatment, we fight for different protocols, we fight for the people we once were and the family we so desperately desire.
It’s known that fertility problems and the use of assisted conception are rising. However, despite this knowledge, NHS funding is decreasing and additional services, such as counselling, are all too often lacking. Whilst awareness of the impact of fertility issues are steadily becoming more widely recognised, the support is simply not readily available for all.
And emotional support is absolutely imperative.
Infertility has an infinite supply of despair and, in the life before I became one half of an infertile couple, I hadn’t fully appreciated just how all-consuming it is and how, at its hands, I would be left to feel worthless, ashamed and thoroughly alone. Like so many others, I never expected I would struggle to conceive; the news was shocking, daunting and confusing, and I didn’t know where to turn to for guidance or advice. Whilst counselling and other support services were mentioned, they were never offered and, after multiple failed cycles of continuous back to back treatments, my mental health suffered massively. At the point when my husband found me researching how best I could kill myself, he decided counselling was no longer something to be merely mentioned via a flyer at our clinic, but was crucial. And so we privately sought support, and were fortunate that we could self-fund.
I know I’m not alone in how I felt, how the grief, devastation and depression became all too overwhelming, and how I just wanted to still my mind from the myriad of negative thoughts unceasingly swirling. Of hopes dashed, dreams shattered and the courage, strength and will, which were constantly needed in order to continue with treatment, with being infertile and with life.
In a recent study conducted by Fertility Network UK and Middlesex University, it was found that four in ten of those undergoing fertility treatments have experienced suicidal feelings and 92% of respondents, to the study, reported feeling sad, frustrated and worried nearly all of the time. And yet there is still no standardised emotional support in place for people living with infertility.
Which is why the work Fertility Network UK do is essential.
For anyone experiencing infertility they are there to offer free, impartial support and advice. Advocating for the vulnerable, lobbying for fertility fairness, particularly with the #Scream4IVF campaign, and raising their voice to let the one in six UK couples living with infertility know they are not alone.
Alongside their campaigning, FNUK also provide many worthwhile services available for all. There is a free support line run by Diane, a former fertility nurse, expert-led webinars, covering a whole range of fertility topics and questions, as well as locally accessible support; assistance which is critical to understanding infertility and supporting emotional health.
This month, Fertility Network UK has launched their #CryingShame appeal aiming to highlight the isolation, shame, depression, anxiety and tears which can be suffered by the 3.5million people, in the UK, who struggle to conceive each year. Through the campaign, FNUK is hoping to raise funds to enable access for peer and one to one support for everyone who is struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, during fertility issues.
It truly is a crying shame that anyone has to experience the devastation of infertility and how little standardised support is actually available. No one dreams of being infertile, but when it happens compassion and care are vital, so please, if you can, dig deep and help Fertility Network UK continue with their invaluable work.