There are a lot of complicated emotions that are associated with infertility. On the surface, there is sadness, frustration, and the feeling of failure. But, one of the less-often spoken about feelings is one of the most visceral — loneliness. Despite the fact that 1 in 8 couples trying to conceive have issues related to infertility, this very personal subject is still considered taboo. Couples going through infertility have been known to stay quiet their experience out of embarrassment, or even the fear of being seen as inadequate. But, even those that are open with their journey report feeling a sense of loneliness. We discuss the feelings associated with staying silent, with speaking out, and what you can do to take care of yourself while going through infertility.
While it’s true that the topic of infertility is more prevalent now than it ever has been, fertility and miscarriage still remain a taboo topic for many. But if we now know it’s more common than originally thought, why do people suffering from infertility choose to stay quiet about it?
When men or women discover that they have fertility issues, shame, embarrassment, and thoughts of being “broken” are often their initial feelings. Having a baby is so easy for everyone, so why not me? Feelings like these can cause people to want to keep the information to themselves for the fear that others will have the same thoughts as them, even if that isn’t the case.
By and large, humans do not react well to uncomfortable situations. Talking about infertility means talking about sex, your sex organs, and what’s wrong with all of it. Many times, non-sufferers don’t know what to say in response to the subject of infertility and either choose to avoid the subject, or say the “wrong” thing, no matter how well-meaning they may be.
These, combined with other factors make for a silent and sometimes isolating experience. And even though it’s your right not share the private matters of your fertility, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the right to feel the loneliness of that, as well.
Deciding to be open about your infertility journey may make you feel less alone in the process. Being open and speaking with friends and family is a great way to processes your feelings and find others that may be going through something similar. On the other side, being open about the process may open you up to other complicated factors.
“You’re stressing too much, just relax.” “Have you thought about adoption?” “My friend went through IVF and got pregnant the first time. Have you tried that?”
These are just a few phrases couples openly going through infertility hear. While there is some understanding that many of these comments come from a well-meaning place, it doesn’t change the fact that these types of comments can feel accusatory, or even downright painful. Learning to tactfully navigate the slew of comments can feel like a job itself. So, having a few key responses may help eliminate any anxiety you might feel surrounding these (somewhat intrusive) questions.
Adding to those that give unsolicited advice are those that frequently ask for updates regarding your fertility, or where you stand on it. Your first instinct may be to appease and update, but you are not obliged to update anyone on your what is currently happening in your uterus unless YOU decide to. Sure, the majority of people are asking out of concern and support. That doesn’t mean they deserve an answer if you are not ready to give one. How do you handle the friend that needs the details?
It may seem contradictory to talk about your infertility struggles but not update throughout the process. But, this is your process and you can control the level of information you decide to share.
Remember that the most important person in this journey is you. Taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally is vital during the infertility process. When you’re deep in the fog of treatments, doctor’s visits, well-meaning well-wishers, here are some of the things you can do to make sure that YOU are okay.
Do you have questions about your fertility? The professionals at Miami Center of Excellence are here to give you unbiased information whenever you’re ready to start planning your family. Talk to us at your next appointment, or contact us to set one up.