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

If someone you know is going through infertility, you may want to help, but have no idea what to do or say. For starters, don't make light of your children or your pregnancy woes. Do let this person know you are there for them and ask them how you can best offer help and support. This can range from regular casual get-togethers to creating new rituals around the holidays.


How to Talk to Someone Having Problems Getting Pregnant

If you have a friend or loved one who is having problems getting pregnant, you may be looking for advice on how best to talk to them. Good for you! Knowing what to say and what not to say is an important part of being a strong source of support and encouragement for your loved one. And we're here to help you figure out how to offer support in the best way you can.
Your loved one definitely needs your support. But, so often, the people around them don't know what to say. As a result, they tend to start avoiding the person going through infertility. Women and their partners who are going through infertility are walking what can be a lonely road, so learning how to talk to them and how to support them can help give the encouragement they need to get through some tough times.

Think Before You Speak

Even with the best of intentions, the things you think may be encouraging for your loved one may actually be quite insensitive. It can often be difficult for friends and family members of those going through infertility to completely relate to the extremely difficult emotions that come with this problem. Unless you have gone through infertility, it will be challenging to relate.
However, there are some tips on how to "think before you speak" to someone who is going through infertility. Although you may not be able to completely relate, you can educate yourself on some of the emotions of the infertility roller coaster. While your friend or loved one may seem just fine on the outside, it's a pretty safe bet that she is putting on a "brave face" and is battling some pretty extreme emotions on the inside.
By doing what you are doing right now -- researching and educating yourself -- you can at least get a glimpse of what the day-to-day life of your loved one may include. It is important to be able to empathize with some of the devastation that infertility can bring. Some examples of the emotions your loved one may feel each day (and possibly to some serious extremes) include:
  • Anger
  • Disappointment
  • Shame
  • Denial
  • Devastation
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal.
Before talking to your friend or family member, try to understand that the pain she is going through is similar to the grief of losing a loved one. However, this loss is felt on a month-to-month basis, as every menstrual period signals the loss of a potential baby. Therefore, the grief from this loss is experienced over and over again, with emotions mounting. When someone loses a loved one, they usually have plenty of time to work through the many stages of grief. For women and couples going through infertility, however, these emotions resurface every month when they grieve the loss of the possibility of a baby.
So the couples work through those emotions of grief as best as they can and then prepare for the next month -- hoping that this will be "the" month. If that hope is dashed again, the feelings of grief return. It's important for couples going through infertility to work through the emotions as they have them in order to get through them and move on. It can be difficult for them to involve many people, as the extremely painful emotions are difficult to express to those who have never felt this loss and grief in this particular way.
If you are trying to be there as support for your friend or loved one who is going through infertility, try to keep this whole process in mind. Although you may not be able to completely relate and understand how they are feeling, you can empathize and be a little more cautious with what you say to them.

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

‣ What Not to Say
‣ What You Can Say
‣ Simply Be There
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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