7 Things Your Friend With Infertility Wished You Knew

There are things that your friend with infertility wished you knew and we’re going to talk about a few of them in this post. It’s likely that you know someone who is currently going through infertility. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 6 people are globally affected by infertility. In the United States, that number is 1 in 5. However, just because something is common doesn’t mean it isn’t hard or devastating. Friends and family can sometimes unknowingly make it harder and more devastating by engaging in unwelcomed conversations or asking intrusive questions. Even the most well meaning supporters can say and do harmful things unknowingly.

So what do you do when someone you care about is struggling with their fertility? Here are 7 things your friend with infertility wished you knew.

It’s hard to know what the right thing is to say. It’s something you can’t fix or make better. You can however do things that will help your friend feel supported while going through what might be the most lonely and painful thing in their life.

  1. Your innocent questions can be uncomfortable
    You may be asking questions to try to better understand what your friend is going through or even wanting to get an update on the latest test results and learn about the next steps. Your friend wants you to know that they are sometimes overwhelmed by having to answer questions and give updates.

    What to do instead: Give your friend permission to share as little or as much as they want. Let them know you won’t be asking questions not because you don’t care or aren’t interested, but because you are being considerate of them and want them to have the freedom to share as much or as little as they want.
  2. Your attempts at consoling can make your friend feel broken
    The best thing you can do is be a safe place for your friend to fall apart without judgment, criticism or trying to change how they feel. Your attempts at consoling can make your friend feel broken or that what they are feeling isn’t valid. They don’t need to be “fixed.”

    What to do instead: Let your friend fall apart emotionally and feel all the feelings without you trying to fix or change them.
  3. Don’t take it personal if they don’t share anything or everything
    Just because they are going through something big doesn’t mean that’s all they want to talk about. Don’t be offended or take it personal if your friend doesn’t share parts or all of their journey with you.

    What to do instead: Try to remember they can still be a good friend and choose not to share this part of their life with you.
  4. Don’t treat them differently
    It hurts to feel outcasted or excluded because of something you’re going through and have no control over. People tend to make assumptions based on what they feel would be best or more helpful for someone going through infertility. Your friend doesn’t want you to make decisions for them, pity them or walk on eggshells around them.

    What to do instead: Continue to extend invitations to events even when you think it might be something your friend might have a difficult time with. Let them decide for themselves what they feel is best and what they need.
  5. Your unsolicited advice isn’t helpful
    You might be tempted to offer a potential solution or advice based on your own personal experience with infertility or from someone else’s but don’t assume that advice is what your friend is looking for. Offering advice can feel insulting. You put yourself in a position of authority by presuming to have a potential solution to their complex problem.

    What to do instead: Avoid offering solutions. Things like surrogacy, adoption or IVF all have their own complexities and are not easy and simple solutions. These are not options for everyone going through infertility.
  6. They care deeply about your feelings
    How you feel matters to your friend and they don’t want to upset you or make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes sharing details about the fertility journey is painful. Having to share undesirable results isn’t fun. Your friend may feel protective of you when you get emotional, visibly upset or disappointed. They don’t want to have to mind your emotions as well as their own.

    What to do instead: Work on your ability to self regulate so that you can be a grounding place for your friend.
  7. Infertility is taxing and affects every area of life
    This is an important thing to understand. Even though infertility is one area of a person’s life, make no mistake, it impacts every area of their life.

    What to do instead: Be sensitive to this and ask what your friend needs. Ask how you can support them and be there for them during this season of their life. They may need you to show up the same or differently. But you won’t know how to show up for them unless you ask directly.

If you’ve never had to walk this path before, it can be hard to truly understand. Having personal experience also is not a prerequisite for being a great supporter. If you’re struggling with infertility and need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Kerri-Anne Brown

Kerri-Anne Brown

Hi, I'm Kerri-Anne and I'm a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, FL. I help individuals and couples who are living with fertility challenges, perinatal loss, birth trauma and difficulties with postpartum adjustments. Please feel free to reach out anytime.

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