When you are experiencing infertility, communicating with family and friends can be difficult and challenging. Even the most caring relative or friend may offer a “helpful” suggestion that will appear wildly insensitive to you. Here are some tips for talking about infertility with family and friends, if you decide to do so.

  • Decide how much detail you and your partner want to share. Respect each other’s need for privacy about certain details.
  • It may help to rehearse exactly what you are going to say. Decide on specific words or phrases to use, such as of ”infertility” or “we are trying to get pregnant and seem to be having a problem”
  • Pick a time to talk when people are not rushed or distracted. Make sure it is a private place where you won’t feel embarrassed to show emotion.
  • Explain that infertility is a life crisis. 1 in 8 couples, or more than 7 million people experience infertility.
  • Let them know how they can support you—whether you want phone calls, questions, etc.
  • Explain that you may need a break from family gatherings, and that it isn’t about them—it’s about using your energy wisely.
  • Tell them that you will share results about a treatment or procedure when you feel up to it, and not to ask about pregnancy tests or treatment results.

The following are scenarios that many of our members have found themselves in and responses you can use when you are asked a sensitive question.

What they said…
“When are you going to stop concentrating on your career and start a family?”

Response A:I don’t believe my job and a family are mutually exclusive. My career is advancing, and I’m very proud of my work. When we feel the time is right, we will consider starting our family.”

Response B: “Right now I have two careers: one is my job which you know about and the other is trying to become pregnant. You probably wouldn’t believe how exhausting and time-consuming infertility treatment can be; it really feels like a second job.”

What they said…
“You used to talk about combining a career and a family. How are those plans coming along? Will we ever get to be grandparents?”

Response:I truly hope that someday you will have grandchildren. Whether I have children biologically or through adoption, I look forward to sharing that happiness with you.”

What they said…
“I wish you’d take one of my kids—they drive my absolutely crazy!”

Response A:Oh thanks, then they’d drive me crazy!”
Response B:I know that parenting is a really difficult job, but I’m really looking forward to that challenge and experience.”

What they said…
“You can always adopt.”

Response A:Adoption is an option I am considering. I have to resolve some medical issues and must grieve the loss of the possibility of not having a biological child before considering adoption.”

Response B: “I have considered adoption very carefully and have decided it is not for me, and am considering a childfree life, if I am unable to conceive a child.”

How to deal when someone close is pregnant
“Guess what? I’m pregnant!”

These are the hardest words to hear from a friend or relative. The best you can do with this one is explain why you are unable to celebrate wholeheartedly.

Response A (keep it short and sweet):That is great news. Congratulations.”

Response B:I’m happy for you, but it is difficult to hear when I cannot get pregnant. That is a really tough time for me, so please understand if I am unable to attend your shower or listen to your happy moments. I am working through my infertility, and the pain is still great.”