THE number of people who find it difficult or impossible to conceive is on the rise, with many studies blaming toxins in the environment and the sheer stress of modern life.

The impact of the problem is difficult for anybody who has not experienced it to understand.

“It really impacts just about every area of a person’s life,” said Linda Clarke.

“It affects a person’s identity and sense of worthiness. It affects their relationships – their intimate relationships. As an example I might mention that some years ago I had a lady come to see me, for me to help her prepare for her next round of IVF after she’d had several failed attempts.

“This lady had so given up on her belief in her body’s ability to conceive naturally that she had actually stopped taking cognisance of her fertile period and had really stopped having sex with her husband, even though it was a very, very good relationship.

“A person gets to the point where they think, ‘Well what’s the point – nothing works.’ I had to help her to take back that belief – and she did eventually conceive naturally.

“I got her to reconnect with her husband.

“That’s one area – it will affect their intimate life.

“In a lot of cases the causes of infertility are unexplained, but where they are explained one partner can feel guilty - if one person is the cause of that they can see the other person suffering and they feel guilty.

“Even with the intimate life, it can become a ritual, having intercourse just to produce a baby.

“Some men feel that all they are is a stud because the woman is so desirous of having a baby that he kind of feels used.

“If the man is to blame, it’s particularly difficult because a man innately doesn’t really share his feelings the way women do. Women have resources – they talk to their friends - but men tend to keep it to themselves.

“They kind of make themselves vulnerable for scrutiny or even ridicule if they admit they’ve got a low sperm count. One man reported that one of his so-called friends said, ‘Oh, do you want me to do the job for you?’.”

Linda is originally from Essex but spent many years in South Africa before returning to this country a year ago.

She has direct experience of some of the issues the support group is being set up to address.

“I struggled as a young woman to conceive. It took me quite a number of years and then I had a miscarriage, and people say things to you with the best possible intentions, but if they don’t understand they often say the wrong thing.”

One of the things people said to Linda when she miscarried was that she at least knew she was able to conceive.

“That didn’t help with the loss and the devastation and the emptiness that I was suffering – and plus, I viewed that little foetus as a being and it was important for me to grieve the loss.”

Linda envisions the support group offering a safe haven where men and women from all backgrounds can talk frankly about their experiences - or just listen, if they prefer - and be offered the chance to explore holistic therapies alongside any conventional treatment they are undergoing.

“What people tend to do is isolate themselves. They just really do not want to go to that baby shower; they really do not want to hear that their friend is pregnant again.

“While this is all going on people feel guilty because they’re jealous that their friend has got pregnant. They don’t want to go with all the mummies to their best friend’s child’s first birthday party because they feel not part of the group – and they often feel guilty for the feeling they have.

“So the support group is a place where people understand what it feels like to feel guilty because you don’t want to go and celebrate your best friend’s child’s birthday.

“The other benefit of a support group is for people to learn from each other, to share resources. If a person finds it difficult to, say, go to family events, somebody else in the group says, ‘Yeah, I know, that happened to me, and what worked for me was...’.

“The power is in the group rather than the individuals. The group becomes an entity.”

Linda can be reached on 07708 961073 and at