In vitro fertilization can be a touchy subject for those considering or undergoing treatment. IVF is used to help families who are unable to reproduce without help to conceive a baby. The process can be emotionally and physically exhausting, as well as a major cause of anxiety.
While the result of successful IVF is worth all the stress in the end, getting there is quite a journey, and it’s important for friends and family to be as supportive as possible. Unfortunately, many men and women are unsure about how to approach those close to them dealing with infertility. Below you’ll find some useful suggestions on what to do and not to do.
Be Thoughtful with Your Words
It’s important to think carefully about what you say to your friend or family member undergoing IVF. Phrases like, “It’ll happen when it’s your time, just relax”, “Why don’t you just adopt?”, and “Did you consider acupuncture, vitamins, other positions, etc?” are often more hurtful than helpful. Instead, be supportive by letting your friend know you empathize with her. Of course, you want your friend to be happy, but infertility is a difficult burden to bear and some suggestions can be insulting.
Be Patient and Thoughtful
Once IVF treatments begin, those who don’t fully understand the ins and outs of this method of reproductive assistance might assume that pregnancy will occur quickly. This is not the case; sometimes couples using IVF require multiple attempts before seeing success. When you ask repeatedly whether your friend is pregnant yet, it applies extra pressure and may make her feel like she’s failing, or that something is wrong with her or the treatment. Let your friend come to you when she’s ready. After all that effort to get pregnant, you can be sure she’ll share the news when the time comes.
Don’t Treat Infertility Like It’s Invisible
It’s best to extend the courtesy of space and privacy to your friend or family member regarding infertility, but don’t avoid the subject altogether. You want your friend to know that she can come to you, and you’re there to listen and be supportive. By constantly avoiding the topic, you could create tension and even make your friend feel that she can’t come to you if she needs a shoulder to lean on.
There’s no better way to help your friend or family member during the IVF process than by becoming educated. Understanding how IVF works, the success rate, risks, and side effects can help you be more empathetic to what your friend is going through. This will also help you be more delicate when it comes to asking questions or making uneducated statements about the procedure.
Being educated on IVF and what it entails will also make you an asset to your friend in that she can speak to you openly, without the need for explanations.
Give Her Space
Finally, sometimes the best way to support a friend or family member going through IVF is to give her space. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t call or ask to visit as much as she used to. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be friends, only that she’s dealing with something larger than herself and needs time to cope with it. This is a sensitive time for all parties involved and partners using IVF may want time together without curious eyes or unwelcome advice.
Hopefully some of these suggestions are helpful, but however you choose to support your friend or family member, be kind and sensitive to their needs. When in doubt, asking your friend if there’s anything she needs or anything you can do to help is a good start.
At Generation Next Fertility, we know how important encouragement and support are for your IVF journey. That’s why we focus on you. If you or someone you know is ready for IVF treatment, we’d love to talk with you.