More than seven million Americans struggle with infertility. Perhaps you have a friend or family member who is still hoping and waiting for the child that has not yet come. Or maybe you’re one of those seven million, and wish your friends knew how to support you.
Infertility brings its own brand of private grief. There are crushing disappointments and painful heartbreaks, along with invasive and expensive treatments. There is also hope – hope that this month will be different and the dream of parenthood will finally come true.
The journey through infertility can be a long one, and emotional support is crucial along the way. Those who love you and are closest to you may not know what to do or say, and can unintentionally make it hurt even more.
Dr. Ariadna Cymet Lanski, a clinical psychologist who treats those with infertility at Fertility Centers of Illinois, offers these tips on what to avoid:
Don’t give advice or tips on how the couple can fix the situation.
If the couple has seen a fertility specialist, the physician has already discussed exercise, food or lifestyle. People coping with infertility often blame themselves; asking whether they’ve taken certain measures can reinforce their sense that the situation is their fault.”
Don’t tell the couple to relax.
While stress often appears to be a contributor to infertility, the human reproductive system is complex and affected by a number of biological and physical factors. Statements like this can make the woman feel like she is doing something wrong, when instead there is likelihood that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.
Don’t ever utter the words, “If it is meant to be, it will happen.”
Don’t complain about your own past or present pregnancy.
Couples dealing with infertility hope for the day they can worry about morning sickness and swollen feet. Be sensitive to your infertile friend’s emotion. She may be happy for you while she cries for herself.
Don’t push adoption.
Each couple has their own approach to family building and are well aware of their options. The decision to adopt or not is a deeply personal one that they may have considered or struggled with already; it’s not appropriate to discuss.
Don’t push them to continue treatment.
If they decide to stop fertility treatment, respect their decision to do so. This is a personal decision and may be based on finances or personal well-being, and they need your support.