Should You Tell Friends and Family About Your Infertility
When you are trying to conceive you will experience many ups and downs.
Usually, more downs, before perhaps some massive highs. Sometimes there are no highs.
It is a physically and emotionally wrenching time that will test your patience, mental strength, and your relationship with your partner.
Unfortunately, most people trying to have babies will get questions about it.
People of a certain age and in committed relationships find that this is just normal conversation starters from friends, family, acquaintances and random strangers.
It’s usually a harmless enough discussion, but can be difficult if you have been having trouble in this area.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell people you are struggling, and don’t want to talk about it?
There are arguments for and against telling people about your fertility struggles.
What you decide to do will probably depend a lot on who you are telling and the nature of your relationship with them.
Telling people close to you may be incredibly helpful and make your struggles somewhat easier.
Reasons to tell someone
#1 You can confide in somebody close to you
Very close friends or family love you and want to support you through difficult times.
If people know what you are going through then you can confide in them when you have had disappointment, when you feel sick, or when you don’t want to do something.
You can just say, ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ and know that this will be enough reasoning for them.
It’s a cheesy line, but ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’
When you keep these things inside they build up and can become overwhelming.
Talking about it can give you some emotional relief and the opportunity to vent.
You might be very surprised by just how kind, helpful or even inspiring your friends can be if you give them the chance.
#2 People may relate
While no one will know exactly what you are going through, finding someone who can relate can be an amazing gift.
If you talk to someone who has been through a similar experience you may find you don’t have to explain yourself at all to them.
They will just ‘get it’.
You may be feeling incredibly alone right now, or as though no one understands.
You may be having trouble with your partner and need to talk to someone who sees things more from your perspective.
There will be less unhelpful advice, less presumption or judgment, and more compassion.
#3 People will stop asking insensitive questions (hopefully)
If people around you know that you are trying to conceive most of them will be a lot more sensitive about it.
You will get fewer people asking you at parties why you are not pregnant yet.
Some people, unfortunately, will still come out with ridiculous and unhelpful comments, but most kind-hearted or intelligent people will not go there.
You will save yourself many awkward conversations and might find that you enjoy social gatherings more.
#4 People will stop offering alcohol or soft cheese
As part of a predominantly drinking culture, most Australians are used to being offered alcohol all the time.
If you are someone who usually enjoys a glass then people tend to get very suspicious if you decline, and even may try to pressure you into drinking.
You can’t use that you are pregnant as an excuse, but if people around you know that you are trying, they will not offer things you can’t have, and not make you explain yourself for not imbibing.
#5 You can ask for help
We are notoriously bad at asking for help when we need it, or even recognising that we need it.
If the people around you know that you are dealing with infertility then they can offer to help.
You will have a lot of appointments, may need to stop doing certain things, may feel sick or need time off work or help with other commitments.
If people close to you know this then you don’t have to come up with excuses or even go into details.
Your friends will be there to make an incredibly difficult process just a little bit easier, and this makes telling people worth it.
Reasons NOT to tell someone
#1 You may not want to be reminded of it
When you are trying to conceive it can seem like all you can think about, and can become the focus of everything.
You may want to just go somewhere and be with people who talk about something else.
You may welcome the distraction, and it could be quite a healthy thing for you at times to take your mind off it.
#2 You may not be ready to talk about it
You are probably going through a number of different stages of emotional response to what you are experiencing.
If you are in the early stages of dealing with this, you may not want to talk about it yet.
It is natural to need some time to process things for yourself before being ready to share this struggle with the rest of the world.
#3 It is personal, possibly even embarrassing
You may never want to really share this with the rest of the world, and that’s ok too.
If you are an intrinsically private person, or if the specific details of your struggle are embarrassing, then you may not want them to be public knowledge.
#4 It’s your partner’s information too
You may want to tell people about your troubles, but need to be mindful that it is not your struggle alone.
Your partner will have some opinion on who you discuss it with and how much detail they are given.
Make sure that you discuss with them first before you let anyone else know, particularly if the reasons for infertility are more his than yours.
#5 You don’t want to be pitied
You may not want sympathy from anyone, or to have people feel sorry for you.
You may be uncomfortable with being unable to do something, such as fall pregnant, which comes so easily to others.
And as I mentioned before, you may just want some time out from the whole thing.
It can be nice to be around people who don’t know and don’t feel bad for you in any way.
#6 What if they respond badly?
You can never predict how someone is going to respond.
Most of them will respond well, but there are always the select few who will say something insensitive or unhelpful (see our other article on things not to say to someone struggling with infertility for examples).
Some people will, unfortunately, make you feel worse at an already very stressful time, and no one needs that.
While it seems there are more reasons not to tell people about your infertility, the reasons to do so are far more compelling.
This is not a journey you need to go through on your own.
Choose carefully who you share this information with, and when and how you do it.
Tell people who know you well and care about you, and have a good idea what you might need to get through.
Prepare yourself for these conversations in advance, and perhaps don’t bring it up at weird times like business meetings or parties with strangers.
You may think that sharing these struggles is a bad idea, but doing so will almost always pleasantly surprise you.
People can be lovely when you need them to be, you just have to give them the chance.