5 Ways to Support Loved Ones with Infertility
April is National Infertility Awareness Month, when we focus on raising awareness to this common disease and finding ways to offer support to those who are struggling. Infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples, so it’s likely that you have a family or friend who has or will deal with infertility. Infertility can take a toll on an individual, emotionally and physically, making having a strong support system critical. So how can you provide loved ones struggling with infertility with the support they need? Below, the fertility experts of IVF FLORIDA offer five ways you can offer friends and family the infertility support they need.
1. Learn About Infertility
One key way to be a supportive friend is to learn as much as you can about infertility. This is not so you can offer treatment or diet suggestions, but instead so you can understand what your friend may be going through. Learning what goes into fertility treatment can help you understand why your friend needs to head home at a specific time to take medication and can keep you from responding with shock if they tell you they need to inject themselves with fertility drugs multiple times each day. Additionally, you can learn what the common misconceptions around infertility are, so you can avoid repeating them.
2. Learn What to Say – and Not to Say
When someone you love is struggling with infertility, it’s important to offer words of support. Commiserating with their feelings (I’m so sorry, that’s awful), asking them what you can do to help, and letting them know that you’re there for them if they ever want a shoulder to cry on can do wonders. As for what not to say? That list is a little bit longer. Make sure not to say anything that minimizes their feelings or their efforts to get pregnant – saying “It’s not that bad!” or “You just need to relax!” will definitely not help. Additionally, don’t go on about what other options are available to them as they’ve likely considered every option available to them.
3. Offer Up Distractions
For couples going through infertility, it can often seem as if their world revolves around it – injection schedules, blood draws, invasive scans – it can be overwhelming. So what can you do? Offer up some distractions! Invite your friend out for a movie, lunch, a hike, anything that can help them get their mind off of their fertility treatment. Sometimes a little break from the infertility grind is just what the doctor ordered.
4. Run Interference
Holidays, birthday parties, baby showers, and other big social events can feel like a minefield for those struggling with infertility. At one point or another, someone will likely ask your friend about their plans to have children or will start complaining about the difficulties of parenting. This can be incredibly painful for your friend, and finding a graceful way to navigate these conversations can be a big source of anxiety. To help, try to run a little interference (with your friend’s permission, of course). When one of these subjects come up, try to steer the conversation in another direction so they don’t have to answer intrusive questions or hear someone go on about how hard the sleepless nights are when they would do anything to have that problem.
5. Support Advocacy Organizations
Infertility impacts every aspect of the lives of those who deal with it, from financial to emotional. Infertility advocacy organizations like RESOLVE offer resources and support for those struggling with the disease – from support groups to fertility grants. These organizations also lobby on the local and national level to push states to mandate insurance coverage for fertility treatment (in most states, insurance companies aren’t required to cover infertility services) which can help lower the financial burden families face when undergoing fertility treatment. To support organizations like RESOLVE, you can donate, volunteer, or participate in your local Walk of Hope.
Trying to figure out how to support loved ones struggling with infertility can feel overwhelming, but by following these five tips you’ll be well on your way to being a supportive family member or friend to your loved one. If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, or if you would like more information on how you can support someone in your life who is infertile, contact the fertility experts at IVF FLORIDA today at 866.770.2168.