Talking About Infertility: Is Silence Your Best Choice?
Infertility is becoming a common problem for couples worldwide. As the age at which women and men choose to have children increases, many couples find that conceiving isn't all that easy. And others find that they must battle with secondary health problems which are at the root of their infertility. A diagnosis of infertility is never easy to deal with, but it can be even harder to talk about with family and friends. Some couples choose not to discuss their infertility with those around them. But is staying silent really your best choice?
Why Stay Silent?
Many couples who have been diagnosed with infertility choose not to tell their family, friends, or coworkers about their fertility problems. You may also be considering keeping this diagnosis from those closest to you. Common reasons for staying silent about infertility include:
- Embarassment: Infertility is a very personal condition that directly affects the couple involved. Talking about infertility often necessitates discussion about sexual relations, reproductive health, and other very personal information. It can be very hard to have to discuss these personal issues with those closest to you.
- Fear: Many couples are afraid to tell their immediate family or friends about their infertility for fear that they will be looked down upon or seen as a disappointment. Society often "expects" couples to have children, and if they are incapable of doing so, they are seen as selfish or abnormal. You may also fear this sort of reprisal from your friends or family.
- Anger: If your family and friends are happily conceiving and adding to their families, you may feel quite a bit of anger towards them. It can be hard to have to acknowledge this anger, which causes many couples to remain silent about their infertility.
- Feeling Misunderstood: It can be difficult to share your feelings and emotions about infertility to those who have not experienced the condition for themselves. You may feel that your family or friends will be unable to understand how you are truly feeling. As a result, you may hesitate to tell them about your diagnosis or treatments.
Effects of Staying Silent
Though staying silent about your infertility does protect you from having to experience certain emotions and situations, it can also make life very difficult. Staying silent can prevent you from:
- Gaining Knowledge: By discussing your infertility with those around you, you may be able to learn a lot about your condition and effective treatments. By talking with family members and friends, you may be surprised to learn that some people you know have actually had experiences with IUI, IVF, or other treatments.
- Expressing Your Feelings: If you choose to stay silent about your infertility, you could be creating a situation in which you find yourself unable to express your feelings. This may cause you to bottle up your emotions, which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and depression.
- Helping Your Partner: By refusing to talk about your infertility problems with others, it can put a lot of undo pressure on your partner. You may feel as if your partner is the only one you can turn to for support, and this may cause your partner to become frustrated, stressed, or overly anxious.
How To Tell Others About Your Infertility
There are ways to go about telling others about your infertility without having to shout it out to the whole world. Here are some tips on how to begin discussing your fertility issues with others:
Look For Safe Support:
Finding support to help you through this emotional time is important, but it is also necessary to find a source of safe support. Safe support can consist of:
- an open-minded and supportive parent
- a friend who won't pass judgement
- another couple who has also experienced infertility
You may find the safe support that you need by joining a support group.
Know When To Tell
It is important to find the right time for you to tell others about your infertility. The right time is probably not during IVF cycles or when you are awaiting a pregnancy test result. Instead, focus on telling others during a time when you are less emotional and more able to deal with their reactions. Choose a time when things are quietest for you.
Know How To Tell
Telling anyone about your infertility can be difficult, but it may be particularly difficult to tell those closest to you. Consider getting support when you are telling others. Great supports include:
- your spouse or partner
- a close friend
- a social worker or psychologist