Infertility affects about 10% of the population, and chances are high that you know someone who has dealt with or is currently dealing with infertility. But because it is not a problem that we tend to talk about frequently, it can feel to someone who is dealing with it that they are isolated.
Because of this, infertility is sometimes called a “hidden” condition. And even the most well-meaning friends or family members may be insensitive about infertility when they are talking to a childless couple or one who had difficulty conceiving. We can’t be perfect all the time, but here are three scenarios in which it is particularly important to be sensitive about infertility:
- You’re curious as to whether a new friend has children.
It’s not uncommon to as, as you’re getting to know a new acquaintance who is in a partnership and approaching middle age, whether they have any children. For some childless couples, they’ve made the decision not to have children freely, and won’t be bothered by the question.
For others who tried unsuccessfully to conceive, this can be a very painful question. A better question is to ask them to tell you about themselves and their family. If they do not mention children, it’s better not to bring them up.
- You’re wondering when someone plans to have children.
The bottom line is that it’s nobody’s business except theirs – and this goes even if you are a parent or best friend. Couples who are having difficulty conceiving may feel afraid, embarrassed, or else simply not want to discuss it. And even when couples get pregnant without trouble, it’s still a private process. If you have to ask, ask them compassionately and in private. And be prepared for an unexpected or awkward answer, or even for them to not want to talk about it at all.
- You want to suggest remedies to someone who is struggling to conceive.
“Have you tried relaxing?” just might be one of the worst things to say to a person who is struggling with infertility. Other well-intended suggestions can be equally offensive, disempowering, or insensitive. This is because the question implies that the person struggling with infertility is doing something wrong.
You may have anecdotal evidence that your suggestion works. You may have read a really good article about infertility treatments on a blog like this one! But just because a method worked for one couple doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. And if the couple has a diagnosis such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or ovarian failure, suggestions like these can be insulting.
Caring support is the best thing anyone can give a couple who is struggling with infertility. Beyond that, allow them to set their own boundaries, and practice sensitivity every day.
Pacific Reproductive Center offers top fertility specialists at several locations in the Los Angeles metro area including Torrance, Glendale, Corona and Irvine Ca. All modern assisted reproductive technologies are offered such as IVF, IUI, ICSI, egg freezing, donation and many more. Call us today!