Talking to Family and Friends About Infertility

Talking to Family and Friends About Infertility

Infertility is a stressful experience for a couple. One of many decisions they have to make is whether to confide in others about their diagnosis.

It’s natural to reach out to family and friends when times are tough. But when the tough issue is infertility, many people hesitate. Infertility is one of the hardest things a couple can go through. In fact, many say it’s as stressful as divorce or a death in the family.

Not being able to get pregnant can be a sore subject. It touches on your most personal experiences and dreams. Some people feel embarrassed or resentful about it. Some simply don’t know how to approach such a painful topic.

Why talk about it?

Whether to confide in others about your infertility diagnosis may not be an easy decision. Some couples choose not to disclose it because they feel that:

  • It is too private to discuss with other people.
  • Others may try to influence their decisions or may disapprove of their choices.
  • Telling one person means that other people could find out.

On the other hand, there may be some benefits to telling those close to you about your diagnosis. For example:

  • Having others to confide in may take some stress off your partner and help you feel less isolated.
  • It may help avoid those awkward times when someone says, “When are you two going to have kids?”
  • It may help them understand why you sometimes miss family gatherings or baby showers.

Whether you confide in others or not is up to you. If you decide not to tell your family and friends, you may want to look for an infertility support group in your area or online. Talking to others coping with this issue can often be a source of comfort and wisdom.

Preparing for the talk

It’s a good idea for the two of you to discuss some issues before you talk to loved ones:

  • Decide whom you will tell. Think about who is most likely to be supportive. This might be an understanding parent, a close friend who is a good listener or another couple who have dealt with infertility. Telling people who will be judgmental or interfering may just add to your stress.
  • Decide together how much you want to share. If your partner prefers to keep certain facts private, respect that wish. You may also want to decide whether you will keep them up to date on treatments you are about to have or only tell them after a treatment is over.
  • Decide when you will tell them. It’s probably best to have this talk when you are between treatments, not during a high-stress time like waiting for a pregnancy test.

Having the talk

When you’re ready to talk:

  • Schedule a time when the person won’t be distracted or in a hurry.
  • Choose a place where you will feel comfortable if you become emotional.
  • Consider having your partner on hand for support. Or you might ask the person to meet with you and a counselor.
  • Provide some educational materials about infertility. Often people who haven’t dealt with it don’t know much about it, including how common it is and how many treatment choices there are.
  • Tell him or her ways that they can use to support you. This may mean listening rather than offering advice.
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