Reston Hospital Center - April 24, 2019

Infertility affects over five million women of childbearing age. If you or someone you know is dealing with infertility, you understand how painful the experience can be. It’s sometimes hard to know what to do or say. What are the best ways to offer support?

Words of support

Infertility affects a couple’s dynamic in many ways. The stresses may include physical, emotional, and financial stress. As they explore options to achieve pregnancy, the tension can grow from excitement and anticipation to sadness and anger. Each failed attempt brings fresh emotions.

Most people mean well when trying to show care and concern. However, as a friend or family member being sensitive to the words you choose is important — they may hurt more or, in ways you can’t understand.

Don’t say things like “everything will be okay” or “at least you’re having fun trying” or “maybe you need to relax more.” Take your cue from them before deciding humor may be helpful and respect their feelings and emotions.

Consider one of these more sensitive approaches:

  • Acknowledge their pain, let them know you are thinking of them and are available to talk they’d like.
  • Ask them what would be most helpful as they work through tough emotions. Simple gestures like a text or a note offering to listen, or talk, can be helpful.
  • Some couples will experience early pregnancy loss during infertility treatments. This can be even harder to deal with. Reach out to let them know how sorry you are and find ways to honor their grief, such as gifting a special keepsake.
  • Include them in social outings, even those that include other children. Don’t try to protect them from these events – let them choose whether to attend. Talk openly about other friends or family members who are pregnant but do so with respect.
  • Respect that some things may be too private to discuss. Everyone deals with the emotions accompanying infertility differently. While some people want to talk about it, others may not.

Connecting to others

Infertility can be a lonely road to travel as an individual and as a couple. It’s a very personal experience they are choosing to share with friends and family. Offer to connect them with other people you know, or a support group or counselor you know of who can offer emotional support along the journey.

Love and support of family and friends can make a difference.