Infertility affects roughly 1 in 6 people worldwide. Although people may choose to undergo some form of fertility treatment in order to have a successful pregnancy, this is still a very common issue that individuals face. Infertility is something that can be difficult to open up about and discuss.
If you’re supporting a loved one through their infertility journey, you may be wondering what the best way to do this is.
What most people usually need is for someone to listen to how they’re feeling and give support without prying or intruding. It’s about balancing being there for your loved one, but not making them feel as if they’re under pressure to give constant updates.
You may also want to make sure that you educate yourself about the issue of infertility. Some infertility charities also have support groups that may be useful to attend, such as Fertility Network UK.
We have some tips that may help you when supporting your loved one…
Out of the 1 in 7 couples who experience infertility in the UK, 90% will have symptoms of depression and 42% report suicidal thoughts.
Many people experiencing infertility may keep details of their infertility journey a secret. This can leads to feelings of low self-esteem, and low self-worth as they feel more isolated.
It can help if you ask your loved one what is the best way for you to support them. Ask what you can do for them during this time in their lives. This can show that you understand that they have complicated feelings, and that you are opening the door for dialogue about the issue.
Statements like ‘You’ll get to sleep in’, or ‘It will happen soon’, or ‘All in good time’, are generally not helpful. They can be taken as minimising the pain, grief and sorrow that the couple could be feeling.
Overly positive statements might not be all that helpful either. Infertility has no certainty, and trying to pretend that it does, may not make your loved ones feel supported.
Acknowledging that there is uncertainty can be much more helpful than promoting a false sense of hope.
Every infertility journey is different, and unique to the couple experiencing it.
Comparisons can create stresses and leave your loved ones feeling as though they’re doing something wrong.
Avoid statements like ‘Have you tried…’, ‘Take a holiday’, ‘Relax, maybe it’s the stress,’ ‘You could always try treatment’, ‘You could adopt’, or ‘I know someone who…’ as these can have a negative impact.
It’s important for you to be sensitive if you’re pregnant yourself, or if you have children of your own.
Try not to complain about any symptoms or issues that you’re experiencing. You probably have other people in your life who you can vent to, but for someone experiencing infertility, these complaints could be painful to hear.
If you are recently pregnant, you might be wondering how best to break the news of your pregnancy. It can be tempting to simply not share your news, but it’s not usually the right course of action. There are some things to think about as you broach this conversation.
Firstly, you’ll want to tell your loved one about your pregnancy yourself, before anyone else does or before they find out through social media.
You should also think about having this conversation somewhere private and not in public. It’s important that your loved one doesn’t feel pressure to behave in a certain way.
You should also make sure to give them some space to let them process their feelings. Try not to take any negative immediate reactions personally. Just let them know that you’ll be waiting to talk whenever they’re ready and try to be understanding.
It’s important to remember that a negative reaction does not necessarily mean that they are not happy for you. Instead, this is a normal reaction when they are struggling with their own attempts to conceive.
Whilst you give them space, you can still send a message every now and again, just to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
Attending events that are focused on children may be difficult for your loved one during their infertility journey. However, you should still extend invites to them.
Give them the option of attending any events but make sure to let them know that you understand if that’s not something they’re able to participate in right now.
Also, don’t bombard them with events and parties. Offer invites for activities and things that they would usually attend and enjoy taking part in.