National Infertility Awareness Week: How to Support Your Friend
Currently, from April 19-25, we celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week. In light of this week it is important to acknowledge that infertility knows no boundaries. It affects males and females around the world that come from various backgrounds, of many ages. Chances are, someone you know is dealing with infertility. Reaching out to a friend who deals with infertility may seem like a difficult position to put yourself in, but these ideas and tips can help you feel prepared and confident to show your support!
Being There During National Infertility Awareness Week
Be aware of the common myths surrounding infertility. Instead of repeating these common misconceptions, try to share facts and statistics with others who may not be as educated as you are on the topic of infertility. This will give your infertile friends confidence that you support them and take their condition seriously. Remember, it is important to spread awareness everyday, not just during National Infertility Awareness Week!
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends with infertility what they need! They might not be vocal about their needs because they won’t want to be a “burden,” or are feeling insecure or too overwhelmed to even ask. Sometimes the most effective strategies to offer infertility help start with asking a friend, “What can I do to help support you?”
The infertility journey can be a tough one to navigate. Another way to offer support to your infertile friends is to celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Whether your friend has decided to pursue fertility treatments (IVF, IUI, or ICSI), has become pregnant, or has decided to adopt, encourage them to keep spirits high! Bringing extra positivity to their life can boost overall wellness and decrease stress, both of which connect to infertility. Celebrations help individuals feel loved and supported throughout their journey and battle with infertility.
National Infertility Awareness Week isn’t the only time to check in on those in your life who experience infertility challenges. On holidays such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or big events such as back to school season, we often get caught up in all the commotion that we forget about the individuals who cannot become parents. Remember to check in and send love and support to your friends experiencing infertility all year round!
You don’t have to experience infertility to support those who have it! Let your friends with infertility know you care about them by acknowledging their feelings and reinforcing your support. Offer the same level of kindness you would offer a friend who is going through big life changes, such as a divorce or losing a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you and that they aren’t facing this struggle alone can have a positive impact.
Offering infertility help and support can be difficult if you’re not in the know about the topic. Learn and educate yourself on the basics of infertility, male infertility, fertility treatment for LGBTQ Families, primary vs. secondary infertility, and more. Be prepared so when a friend comes to you wanting to vent or share their story, it will be easier for you to not only understand, but to have a conversation with them as well.
One of the biggest ways you can support your friends with infertility is simply by listening to them. Don’t be so quick to offer unsolicited advice – to those who experience infertility challenges, these tidbits of advice may feel condescending, as if you are assuming they haven’t done their own research. Infertility is complicated and complex and affects every individual differently. Even fertility experts haven’t figured out how to help every couple have a baby yet.
There are so many ways to support your friends with infertility. Don’t automatically jump to offering advice. When it comes down to it, meaningful gestures go a long way. Offer to attend difficult appointments with them to show your support- whether you sit in the waiting room or come in and hold their hand, they will be grateful for a familiar face.
More than anything, your friend with infertility want to hear that their feelings and emotions associated with infertility are valid! There are no right or wrong ways to handle any of the challenges infertility can bring, because everyone copes in their own unique ways. Offer infertility help by being the supportive friend who is constantly validating their feelings, rather than invalidating them.
When it comes down to it, your friend with infertility isn’t expecting you to be a superhero, but is instead looking for a friend who can show support and bring positivity into their life. Support that isn’t always perfect, but is constantly there, is better than no support at all. A simple check-in over coffee, a fun event, or even a hug can all help take away the stresses of infertility. This National Infertility Awareness Week, lend an extra hand or shoulder to cry on and show your support for your friends going through their infertility journeys.