Talking About an Emotional Topic With Loved Ones
Every culture has taboo topics. Topics you just don’t talk about with anyone, even your family. Some topics such as religion, sex, and abuse are some of the more emotional topics. A major taboo subject that affects 1 in 10 couples in the United States is infertility. 10%-15% of couples trying to conceive experience infertility, yet talking about infertility can be extremely uncomfortable.
According to Reproductive Facts, infertility is one of the most common diseases for people between the ages of 20 and 45. If so many couples struggle with infertility, why is it still such a taboo subject? For women struggling with infertility, the journey can be embarrassing and heartbreaking.
“When Are You Going to Have Kids?”
Infertility is isolating and painful. Many couples choose not to share their infertility with family and friends. Not sharing such important news is heartbreaking. When well-meaning friends and family start asking “When are you guys going to have kids?” “Why don’t you have kids yet?” it can be painful. Now there is stress from hiding your infertility journey and pressure from loved ones to have children.
“Have You Tried Drinking Filtered Tap Water?”
Telling friends and family about your journey opens you up to be vulnerable. Friends or family members may not have the reaction you need. Some couples report friends or family reacting to the news in an uncomfortable way. Some family and friends will be in denial or ask many questions. Some may not understand where you are in your journey and start peppering you with unwanted advice or tips. A Google search of “infertility tips” pulls thousands of articles with tips to “cure” infertility. Some of these tips include, drink filtered tap water, avoid trans fats, wear loose clothing, have intercourse everyday, and just relax”
“Can’t You Just Do IVF?”
After sharing your infertility news, many family and friends want to help, but don’t know where to start. They start looking online or asking friends about infertility. Many people have heard of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and believe that’s the cure to infertility. Or, they’ll ask if you’ve tried this treatment or that. However, there are many reasons a couple may choose not to do a certain treatment.
“Is It You or Your Partner?”
No one is at fault for infertility. Approximately, ⅓ of fertility issues are female related, ⅓ are male related, and ⅓ are a combination or both. People may feel this is a simple question, “who is the infertile one?” However, it’s uncomfortable.
How to Start the Infertility Conversation
If you’re ready to start talking to your friends and family about infertility it’s very empowering, but also scary.
- Choose the right time and place
Sharing your news at Thanksgiving dinner may not be the right place, but maybe it is for you. Think about who you’d like to know and how you’d like to tell them.
- Prepare to hear the wrong things
“Hey, at least you’re not dying!” “You’re lucky to not have kids!” Are some of the common responses. First, remember that these are instinctual responses. Your loved ones really don’t know what to say. Now is your time to guide the conversation.
- Share as much or as little information as you’d like
This is your moment to share what information you’d like. Know that your loved ones probably want to know as much as possible. Some of them may feel guilty or upset for not knowing how long you’ve been on your infertility journey. Feel free to be honest and let them know why. “I didn’t know how to tell you, so I waited until I was comfortable sharing.”
- Prepare for questions
“How long have you been trying?” “Have you done IVF?” Prepare to be asked many questions. Again, you can decide what you’d like to share.
- Let them know how to support you
Your loved ones will want to know how to support you. Saying “Nothing” may cause your loved ones to decide how they want to show your support. Tell them how you want them to support you. It may be as simple as “Please keep us in your thoughts and/or prayers and we’ll let you know more.”
Be Honest With Your Friends and Family With Children
Do you have friends or family who are having babies? Sometimes it can really hurt to see that pregnancy announcement on Facebook or even to hear about it in person. While you’re very happy for your friend or family member, you may feel emotional. That’s very normal and it’s okay.
Many of our patients have felt this way. Take time for yourself to recuperate. Step away from social media or take time for yourself after hearing a pregnancy announcement. Go on a walk or talk to your partner about your feelings.
If you’re invited to a child’s birthday party or celebration, it is okay to say no if you’re not up for it.
Be honest with your friend or family member why you are unable to attend. Saying, “I’m not going,” may be hurtful for them, but if you say, “Sorry, I’m really not feeling up to attending the birthday party,” they’ll understand and be supportive.
As long as you take care of yourself, you can still enjoy your family or friend’s new baby and feel happy for them!