ONE in four Kiwi couples struggles with fertility.
Yet the theme which often comes up when you speak to people in the thick of it is how alone they feel.
Two Southland women experienced this and, after meeting at an antenatal group, decided to set up a support group.
Invercargill residents Aimee Morison and Amy Murchland successfully attempted IVF after years of trying to get pregnant.
They did not know each other at the time and they felt the whole process was very harsh.
“Fertility issues are very emotionally traumatic and the treatment can be very demanding on the body. Often friends and family are unable to relate to the feelings surrounding treatment,” Aimee said.
Amy agreed – she spent five years trying to get pregnant until she looked for a doctor three years ago.
She was in her early 30s and did not have any fertility issues within her family.
“That is one of the main problems as people just find out about their fertility issues when they try to get pregnant.”
The process took even more time due to the changes in the health system, and she suffered emotionally.
“The whole thing put me in a pretty dark hole. I was depressed. Did not want to go to work, did not want to get out from my bed. Did not want to see kids… It was a tough time.”
Two years ago, they decided to contact Fertility NZ to set up a monthly support group, which has a network of 40 people.
Since the creation, they have supported several couples through multiple rounds of treatment, and many have gone on to become pregnant.
“People that haven’t gone through it think they understand, but unfortunately they really don’t. They say things like ‘just relax, it will happen’, ‘change your diet’, but it’s not like that. The group gives to people like us a feeling of belonging,” Amy said.
Most of the group are women, but they said everybody was welcome.
Next week the country will recognise fertility week to raise awareness of the issue.
The Invercargill support group is promoting a free event with fertility specialist Dr Kate van Harselaar on Wednesday, September 25, at the Invercargill City Library.