Supporting people experiencing infertility

How to support people experiencing infertility - COPE

While people often mean well when trying to support family or friends who may be experiencing infertility, unfortunately what is said often comes out wrong, and can be very hurtful – often without us realising it.

There are a number things we can keep in mind to support people experiencing infertility or going through infertility treatment. Below are some things to keep in mind that may help reduce their distress.

Try to stop asking

It is important to be mindful about asking people about their plans to start or grow their family. While this may be a conversation starter or a more intended question, unless we are confident that the person is likely to want to talk about it, it is better to pursue other avenues of conversation and/or give the opportunity to talk about their plans in their own time.

While we may be curious, we need to be mindful of the impact of our questions, which, while might seem innocent or just curious, can have devastating impacts for those affected by infertility.

Try to stop giving advice

It is also important to remember that there are many reasons why someone, or a couple, may be struggling with infertility. We so rarely know the full story. Keep in our mind that those affected by infertility are likely to be struggling internally, and don’t need the added pressure or need to deflect additional advice.

Learn to become comfortable with not saying anything

It is often our instinct to try and help of fix the situation. Sometimes staying silent is the best thing we can do to support someone experiencing infertility. Instead, just try to BE there for the person/couple. If the situation is right, it can be helpful to acknowledge that they are going through a hard time, and let them know that you are there fore them when, and if they ever want to talk.

Be mindful if you become pregnant

While someone who is struggling with infertility will not want to diminish your joy related to your pregnancy, they certainly do not want the experience rubbed in their face. If you become pregnant, it can really help letting the person know of your situation in a heartfelt way, in advance of any big announcement and in private. Also let them know that you are aware of their experience and that you are sympathetic and understanding of whatever their feelings or reactions may be.

However the person reacts, try not to make it personally. They may be going through inner turmoil, and it’s likely that all they want to do is cry, yet feel forced to keep a brave face.