For Friends and Family

This section will examine family and friend dynamics impacting infertility and discuss ways to help deal with the demands infertility places on family relationships.

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Although infertility is widely acknowledged as a crisis for individuals and couples, it is less recognized as a trauma that impacts their families. Yet, involuntary childlessness is an intergenerational crisis that has the ability to strain, even damage, family relationships over time by impairing communications and interactions. Invisible losses, such as miscarriages, failed medical treatments, or adoptions gone awry, may highlight a family’s inadequate means of dealing with problems.

Old family issues, jealousies and resentments may resurface or other family struggles, such as parental illness or the pregnancy of a sibling, may take priority over reproductive difficulties, leaving the infertile couple feeling isolated and abandoned. The lack of acknowledgment of the losses associated with infertility may damage family interactions, particularly if family members use negative coping techniques such as blaming, side-taking, denial or avoidance. However, the family experience of infertility also has the potential to bring out the best in the family system, promoting growth and well-being for the members.

This section will examine family dynamics impacting infertility and discuss ways to help deal with the demands infertility places on the family system.