Struggles with Infertility: How to Talk about It

You have been trying for years to get pregnant, and nothing is working. You feel defeated. You feel incomplete. You feel broken. Hurt. Embarrassed. Sad. Alone.

Infertility is a real problem — one that over 7 million couples face — yet it is often kept a secret.

Hard to Talk About

It is hard to talk about, understandably so — it is extremely personal.  It feels like you did something wrong, something unspeakable. But why does it feel so shameful when it is really out of your control? You couldn’t have predicted this. You don’t know what is going on deep inside your body. Infertility might feel like something you should be ashamed of, but you don’t have to be. Talking about it can do wonders. It can open doors. It can show you, YOU are not alone. It can put the breaks on the nagging, all the questions about when you will have kids? It can lessen your pain.

Here are some tips on how to start the conversation (source: resolve.org):

1.) Decide with your partner how much detail you want to share before you talk about it. Respect each other’s need for privacy.

2.)Rehearse what you might say, so you feel prepared. Use words like “we have been trying to get pregnant but seem to be having a problem.”

3.) Pick the right time to talk about it. Choose a time when people aren’t rushed or distracted. Choose a private location where you won’t be embarrassed if you become emotional.

4.) Explain that infertility is common — 1 in 8 couples experience it.

5.)Tell people how they can be supportive. Do you want them to call you and talk to you about it or would you rather not answer anymore questions?

6.) Explain that you might need a break from family gatherings. Reassure them it is not about them, but rather about taking care of you.

7.) Tell them you will share information on your terms, and to not ask about pregnancy test or treatment results.

Take Care of You

Before approaching the topic with emotionally-involved family members, it might be wise to talk to a counselor or join a support group. Take care of yourself. Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions and come to terms with your reality. Come up with a plan, and brace yourself for possible responses and how you might handle them.

Woman who experience infertility report higher levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. The ups and downs of infertility, as you continue treatments and tests, can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions. Remember to take care of you and turn to help during times of extreme sadness, insomnia, irritability, and lack of energy. Allow yourself to grieve in a healthy way.

Jennifer Collins, PsyD

Author: Jennifer Collins, PsyD

Jennifer is a licensed clinical psychologist that has been in the mental health field for over 15 years. She works with issues related to infertility and the use of assisted reproduction. She also teaches behavioral management of ADHD, and works with individuals who have unhealthy relationships with food.