Infertility Etiquette -- Tips for Talking to Those Going Through Infertility

What You Can Say

Okay, you now know more about what you shouldn't say -- so what can you say? A painful part of going through infertility or having a loved one who is going through it is realizing that nothing you can say is going to make it better. Nothing you say can erase the pain or make their reality any different.
So first of all, take the pressure off yourself! It's not your job to "fix" anything or to say the perfect thing. Your job as being their loved one is to simply care and be there for them.
Couples going through infertility often suffer from isolation. They may not tell anyone what is going on, due to personal preferences or possibly even feelings of embarrassment. Other reasons they may not tell people what is going on is out of fear of how those people will respond.
In addition, in some cases, loved ones don't have a clue how to respond and fear that they will say the wrong thing, so their solution is to just leave the couple alone. This does nothing but add to the isolation of the couple going through infertility. So even if you don't always say the right thing, be there for them and let them know you want to support them.
When first talking to your loved one about their infertility, something you can discuss with them is how you can best support them. Let them tell you what they need from you. Let them be in control over how much information they share.
Some other helpful tips on what you can do include:
  • Send them cards. Although this isn't talking to them directly, it shows that you care and that you're thinking of them.
  • Ask them what they need. Simply ask them how you can help them, such as going out for coffee once a week or going to a movie to help get their mind off things. Think about ways you can support them and ask them if it would help. Let them guide you in how best to support them. Also, ask them what they don't want you to talk about. Some couples may not want to hear about how so-and-so's child is doing. Be sensitive to their needs and follow their lead.
  • Remember them on holidays. Holidays, particularly Mother's Day and Father's Day, can be significantly difficult for a couple going through infertility. Don't forget them on these days. Maybe you can help offer them a way to celebrate in other ways. Again, let them be the guide, but you can offer ideas that may include going on a fun trip or doing "child-free" things that maybe aren't the traditional holiday events. Remembering them on these days will help them know you care and that they aren't forgotten.
  • Support their decisions. Whether you personally agree with your loved one's decisions along the infertility journey, always support them. The decisions are not yours to make. Any decision that the couple must make usually involves a lot of thought and a tremendous amount of emotion. Once they make a decision, it is usually not one that was easy to get to -- whether it's stopping fertility treatments, choosing to adopt, or stopping everything altogether.

Being there for them, regardless of their decision, will mean a lot to them. Knowing that they can count on you to not be judgmental or critical will help them lean on you more, which will result in them having that support they need to get through their difficult times.

More Headlines in Infertility Etiquette -- Tips for Talking to Those Going Through Infertility

↶ How to Talk to Someone Having Problems Getting Pregnant
↶ Think Before You Speak
↶ What Not to Say
‣ Simply Be There
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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