And so this is Christmas…

Often, we get so caught up in the season that we forget Christmas can be a particularly tough time of year for many people. The homeless, the elderly and infirm, the infertile… Infertility at Christmas can be difficult to cope with. Fertility consultant, Dr Gorgy, advises on ways to cope with infertility at Christmas time.

At its very core, Christmas is a story about a pregnant woman giving birth. On the surface too, Christmas is all about children, sharing exciting moments and witnessing the wonder and pleasure they get from the occasion. So, it’s no surprise, that if you are experiencing fertility problems, dealing with Christmas, and everything it brings, can be heart-wrenchingly difficult. Bearing in mind that one in six couples will experience issues when trying for a baby, there are many people who will find Christmas a challenge this year because of infertility.

Listening to colleagues and friends talk about buying presents for their little ones, or organising a trip to see Santa can make you feel empty, angry, begrudgingly jealous. Feeling isolated from the events unfolding is common and also an overriding sense of ‘what’s the point?’ pervades: what’s the point in decorating the house? What’s the point when we can’t send letters to Santa? What’s the point in waking up on Christmas morning never having experienced the thrill of children finding their presents?

These feelings are often further compounded at work and at family gathering or parties where an overzealous aunt or co-worker will undoubtedly ask you when you are going to start trying for a baby. Family gatherings can be excruciating if you have siblings or cousins with a string of children, or it’s baby’s first Christmas and (your) the parents are over the moon. So many events to attend and so many potential awkward moments that will leave you wanting to down your drink and go hide under a duvet until January 1st.

At The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy we understand that alongside the medical treatment, it is important to address the psychological impact of infertility. Getting help and support is vital, not only for your general wellbeing, but to help your chance of being able to conceive at some point.

So, what practical steps can you take to help you cope with infertility at Christmas and where can you find support?

  • If you haven’t yet had a fertility test, we would recommend this. For example, The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy offers comprehensive testing for both men and women that includes – among many other things – egg reserve counting (Antral follicle count through transvaginal scan), AMH blood test for the ovarian reserve, checking the cavity of your womb and the patency of your tubes with Aqua Scan and sperm testing. From the information we obtain, we can determine factors that could explain your infertility, such as blocked tubes possibly because of previously undetected STIs, problems with ovulation or sperm issues. Knowing why you are having difficulties is the first step to treating the problem. So, for peace of mind, maybe a fertility test could be an early Christmas present to yourself?
  • Prepare! Sounds rather daft, having to mentally prepare yourself for Christmas, but undoubtedly it makes sense. If you know that you are going to be asked awkward questions, think about what they might be and construct appropriate responses beforehand to prevent yourself getting flustered when they pop up in conversation.
  • If you are invited to big family events, let your close relations know prior that you are struggling. You might be surprised at how supportive people are.
  • If you don’t want to go to an event, then don’t! If you have a large family and know that all your siblings and their children will be there and, as much as you love them, you know you may struggle to cope, don’t go.
  • And there’s no need to feel guilty. You already have enough to deal with.
  • However, if you feel you can manage these events, never underestimate the power of positive thought. Playing out in your mind how the event will go, understanding that children will be there and that you are going to have a good time regardless, can help some people to measure their emotions and join in with the festive celebrations.
  • Don’t isolate yourself from everyone. Confide in people you feel comfortable to tell. If you have friends without children, make arrangements with them to do something fun.
  • Treat yourself. A holiday? A spa day? A night out with the girls? A new dress? If there is something, or a few things, that you can pepper the festive season with to give yourself another focus, or something to look forward to, then do it.
  • Try out new relaxation techniques or go for a massage. Christmas is a stressful time for many and managing that stress can help with your overall approach.

It’s also important to understand that you are not alone. Many couples with fertility issues are experiencing the same feelings this Christmas. We would always recommend that you contact support groups to connect with others in your situation:

  • The Fertility Network UK is a community that provides help, support and advice for those struggling to conceive. They also promote special get-togethers and free to attend events across the UK.
  • Fertility Friends is a fantastic forum full of likeminded people full of personal stories, articles and news. If you have a question or want to post how you are feeling, there are plenty of people who know exactly how you feel and can offer advice or just a friendly ear.
  • Resolve is an American based organisation, but with much relevant information and interesting blogs.1

Christmas is a time for celebration. Capturing the spirit of the season is as important as everything it stands for. So, finding joy and fun wherever possible is a good goal for everyone at this time of year, regardless of difficulties faced.

To speak to one of our expert fertility consultants at The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy, simply call us on 020 7224 1880.

[1] Please note that these are all external organisation and The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy is not in any way responsible for their content.