Infertility Resources & Support

Talking (or Not Talking) About Infertility

Mom and daughter talking and hugging

Being open about infertility and enlisting the support of family and friends can help people cope with emotional and physical distress. The decision on whether to talk to family or friends can be challenging to make.

Understanding Infertility and Fertility Treatment

couple talking about infertility struggles

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) most up-to date definition of infertility, infertility is a medical condition characterized by the inability to achieve a successful pregnancy. This inability is determined based on a patient's medical, sexual, and reproductive history, age, physical examinations, diagnostic tests, or any combination of these factors. It may require medical intervention, including the use of donor gametes or embryos, either for an individual or in partnership with another. This definition ensures that all individuals, regardless of their relationship status or sexual orientation, have access to the necessary treatment and support for their unique circumstances.  

A diagnosis of infertility frequently carries with it emotional turmoil, such as guilt, anger, depression, sadness, and anxiety. Couples may experience a loss of confidence and self-esteem. 

Fertility treatments can be physically demanding and uncomfortable, which adds to the impact on couples and exacerbates disruptions in their lives. Standard infertility treatment methods include:

  • IVF (In vitro fertilization) is the most common. IVF involves exposing egg and sperm to each other in a laboratory dish to form an embryo for implantation into the  uterus. 
  • IUI (Intrauterine insemination) is a type of fertility treatment in which the reproductive specialist inserts sperm into the uterus to achieve pregnancy. 
  • Donors (sperm/egg) are utilized in cases where an individual's eggs or sperm are not viable.
  • Surrogacy is an agreement in which a woman carries and delivers a child for another individual or a couple. Surrogate pregnancy is achieved through IVF. 

Deciding When and How to Share

When considering sharing, it may be helpful to weigh the pros and cons of disclosing to others.  Decide which tools or strategies you might use to start a conversation about infertility and its treatment.

  • Decide how much detail you want to share.
  • Rehearse  what you might say to settle your nerves.
  • Avoid starting the conversation when others are stressed or distracted.

Dealing with Potential Reactions

woman talking to her mother about struggling with infertility

Family and friends will have varying reactions when you share  information about your fertility journey, so it’s helpful to be prepared for a wide range of responses. Some will be supportive, others won't readily understand what you're telling them, and still others may even seem judgmental ("You just need to learn to relax.")

It’s important to remember that these are your family and friends, and their reactions aren't intentionally hurtful. They may be feeling confused, sad, or  frightened for you. Help them help you by offering guidance on what they can do for you ("I need your sympathetic ear.") Share information on infertility with them. Your reproductive specialist can suggest available sources. 

Choosing Privacy Over Disclosure

Remember that the choice to disclose information about your fertility journey is yours to make. It’s important that you do what feels right for you while setting healthy boundaries. You can field unsolicited advice or prying questions with a simple, "I'd rather not discuss that" or "Sorry, that's not open for discussion" which will quickly shut down prying questions. Then feel free to change the subject or leave the conversation.

The Importance of Support For Your Journey

Amid the complexities of infertility and fertility treatments, the significance of having a reliable support system cannot be overstated. Sharing the journey of infertility with family and friends can be a vital source of emotional solace and resilience. However, deciding whether to open up about your struggles is a deeply personal choice, and it's essential to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks.

You Decide

Infertility is a medical condition. Disclosing it, or how much you disclose, is your choice.  For more support or fertility information, connect with our team at Pinnacle Fertility. 

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Written by: Pinnacle Fertility
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