Are you practicing infertility etiquette?

This is National Infertility Awareness Week, brought to us by Resolve . Did you know 1 out of 8 couples and individuals experience infertility when trying to build a family? It’s important we learn how to support, speak with empathy and help people to not feel isolated. This week helps us gain information about infertility and learn supportive communication so we can help to avoid further feelings of isolation in our loved ones.

What is infertility etiquette?

  Woman biting her lip, text saying "what is infertility etiquette?"Part of National Infertility Awareness Week is learning how to support our loved ones struggling to build a family. If we can learn to say helpful things and avoid saying even unintentionally boneheaded things, we can be there for them during this difficult process.

What not to say:

Please avoid giving unwarranted advice such as “have you tried acupuncture” (massage, this amazing supplement my friend tried, this particular doctor, etc. because trust me they have often tried everything and anything).  Please also avoid minimizing your own parenting experience “having kids is so exhausting anyway” because we don't live in a binary good/bad world and shedding a bad night on parenting does NOT work as a Jedi-mind trick to magically make this all better for the person unable to conceive yet, as if they might get relief and say "you're right!  Parenting is awful, thank GOD this hasn't happened for me yet!".  Please please don't ask if they’ve considered adoption or surrogacy (rather than letting them make this decision for/against themselves, they might not be there yet or ever.) or telling them to just relax “my cousin had a baby as soon as she adopted”.  None of these sentiments actually hear the couple’s pain or allow them to tell their story though I recognize that this is often to avoid our own discomfort and for the intention of providing relief and comfort.

So what can I say?

When you have been struggling through something, it likely wasn't magic words from someone that made it better, right?  It was often moving through the experience, finding your own healing and resolution. Knowing people were there for you was huge, but there was often nothing they could say that would erase the pain.  It's the same here, luckily you don't have to come up with the perfect words, you just can let the couple know you are there for them.  You can try “I’m here for you”. “I’m sorry you’re going through this”. “Would you like to talk about it?”.  If you find you want to give advice, I'd recommend asking: “What are your next steps?” Let’s all practice listening instead of doling our advice out of our own discomfort for our loved ones' pain. For more tips, please go to: resolveorg.