Approximately 1 in 8 couples are affected in some way by infertility. That’s roughly 6.7 million people each year that have trouble conceiving.
Chances are you know one of these people.
But, like most people dealing with fertility issues, they’re probably not talking about it. That’s because well-intentioned family members and friends often say things to make the situation worse.
If you have a loved one suffering from fertility issues, read on for some practical advice on how you can help support loved ones experiences infertility.
Fertility By the Numbers
First, get educated. If you know a little about what they are going through, you’ll have more meaningful conversations. They’ll appreciate not having to explain their situation over and over.
Here are some basic facts regarding fertility:
Infertility is not always the woman’s fault. We go by the 30/30/30/10 rule. 30% of the time it is the woman, 30% of the time it’s the man, 30% of the time it’s a combination of both, and 10% of the time the cause of infertility is unknown.
This is helpful to know because often, the woman gets all the blame. Be sensitive and know that it may not be an issue with her at all.
When a woman reaches 35, her fertility begins to decline. By the time she is 40, she has less than 5% of getting pregnant.
There are many different types of infertility. Therefore, there are many different ways to address the problem.
Some common treatments include:
In Vitro Fertilization
Every couple is different, and just because something works for one couple doesn’t mean it will work for another.
What to Say
There is no universally right or wrong thing to say. It’s different for everyone. But, some phrases that are used don’t seem very sincere. So whatever you say, make sure you mean it.
Here are some examples of things to say:
Say I'm sorry
It’s good to acknowledge when someone close to you is having a hard time. Sympathize with the person and offer a genuine hug — post-COVID, of course.
Be willing to listen
Often they may need a non-judging, listening ear. Let them vent. Let them show emotion. If someone is willing to open up to you, don’t feel like you need to fix it — because you can’t. Just let them know you are always ready to listen.
Take it Seriously
For those going through infertility, this is what their world revolves around. They think of nothing else. And every month, they wonder if it is their turn to get a positive pregnancy test. Don’t downplay their suffering. Because they may feel they are suffocating from it.
Studies have shown that couples who deal with infertility are more likely to be depressed, suicidal, anxious, and suffer from PTSD.
Invite them to baby showers, birthday parties, and christenings. But understand it may be hard for them to come, but it’s even more difficult for a couple to be left out of family events.
Let them decide if they are ready to come, and don’t be offended if they don’t show up.
Give Them a Heads Up
Another helpful tip is to tell them of any pregnancy announcement before it is made public. This will let them deal with their emotions in private. Couples dealing with infertility can be happy for others when they get pregnant. Still, they do have complicated feelings to deal with.
What Not to Say
Here’s a quick list of some insensitive phrases that we have heard. These phrases can cut deep, even if they are said out of love and concern.
You Can Always Adopt
Yes, we know. Thank you. But, adoption isn’t the right answer for everyone. Most couples want a baby that is biologically related to them. They will do whatever they can to make that happen.
It’s not that simple. And yes, we’ve heard all the miraculous conception stories where as soon as they stop trying, they get pregnant. Please don’t tell us anymore of those.
Most people understand that miscarriages happen, but they are still very painful. Don’t tell them to get over and keep trying. Miscarriages are traumatic, and the couple needs time to grieve.
Kids Aren't That Great Anyway
We understand that some people say this jokingly, but please don’t downplay the importance of your children. A couple dealing with infertility would gladly stay up all night with the baby, spend hours in the car driving to soccer games, and trading fancy dinners for movie night.
We're Here to Support
If you or someone you know is suffering from fertility issues, please contact us. We have been able to help many couples grow their families using alternative methods. We have personally gone through the process. We know how to support intended parents along their journey to becoming a family.