Fertility issues are deeply personal, but that doesn’t stop other people from having different views and opinions on the right course of treatment.
Start by aligning with your partner
If you’re struggling with fertility, the issue is first and foremost between you and your partner. Bear in mind, though, that while you may feel perfectly comfortable discussing the ins and outs of your sex life and medical history with your family and friends, your partner may not.
Before sharing any information with others, it’s crucial to sit down with your partner to discuss which people you'd feel comfortable disclosing your circumstances to and just how detailed they need to be. Failure to have this initial conversation can place a significant rift in your relationship and leave your partner feeling disrespected, ashamed or discounted.
Anticipate the reactions of others
Once you’ve spoken with your partner and gotten the all-clear to invite others into your in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey, don’t assume everyone will react favorably.
While IVF presents a miraculous opportunity to conceive a child, there are many misconceptions and biases against it. Unless your loved ones are educated or familiar with the topic, they may be quick to let their concerns overshadow excitement for your future family.
Infertility is an emotionally charged issue and you may find yourself facing religious and philosophical arguments. Be ready with the facts to counter anything you disagree with.
Finally, be prepared that some of the people you're closest to may be uncomfortable when they find out you’ve been having difficulty becoming pregnant. Their reaction may sound offensive or critical when in reality they're concerned, disappointed or hurting for you.
The inability to express such emotions in a supportive way can sometimes erect a barrier between you and the people you most need support from. Understand that they may ask probing questions, make insensitive comments or offer unsolicited advice.
Have patience, be prepared to listen and remember how much love there is between you.
If you feel that sharing will do more harm than keeping the information private, it’s completely OK to avoid talking about it. Ultimately, you’re under no obligation to let others in on the details of your fertility journey and treatment decisions.
Rehearse your story and prepare your responses
Any time you’re sharing personal information, it helps to be prepared. Decide ahead of time what people you want to tell and what details you feel comfortable sharing. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position in which you feel obligated to explain more than you’d want to or more than you agreed to with your partner.
Instead, have phrases handy such as, “I’d prefer not to go into too much detail” or “I appreciate your support in respecting our privacy through this challenging situation.” The last thing you want is to leave the conversation feeling worse than when you started. There’s no need to add extra stress to the process by discussing your situation with people who won’t accept or understand your decision.
Avoid shutting yourself off
Fear of a less-than-favorable response shouldn’t make you feel as if you need to undergo fertility treatments completely alone. It’s perfectly normal to need support for various aspects of IVF, including social, financial, emotional and spiritual support. If the people in your life cannot meet your support needs, seek resources through the fertility clinic, online support groups or other places to avoid loneliness and isolation as you navigate this exciting and uncharted path.