09/10/2014 06:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Ways to Respond to Infertility Advice


For those who haven't dealt with infertility, it's difficult to imagine the plight. That is understandable, since it's even hard for those of us who have experienced infertility to explain it in words.

How do you convey the feelings of longing for a child? Something you've never known, but can still feel? Like a piece of your heart is missing or a wish that is always just out of reach. How do you describe the poison that grows at the pit of your stomach with each failure? How do you label what is not so much physical pain, but an emotional weight pressing heavier and heavier against your body? How can you possibly help others fathom your relentless despair?

There are a lot of articles on what not to say to the fertility challenged. The soundest advice is to avoid sharing your advice. But we humans have a tough time keeping in our opinions. So the advice will come. And when it does, here's what we can do about it.

Make the Most Of It

We've all heard it. "Just relax." "Go on vacation." "Stop stressing -- it will happen!" Most of the infertility advice is not very helpful, but sometimes there are nuggets that just might surprise you. People share their stories with you because there is hope in them. The "magic pills" that worked for their friend who tried to conceive for years and then got pregnant after a couple months. The "Robitussin trick" that makes it easier for sperm and egg to meet. The great acupuncturist who helped your cousin get pregnant when the fertility doctors said she had no chance.

Don't assume their advice isn't valid. You just might find that sometimes, there are helpful nuggets to be found if you don't tune all of the advice out.

View Their Advice as Love

When the well-meaning advice comes rolling in, imagine the words surrounding and comforting you. Instead of steaming over what seems like a careless comment, avoid the negative energy and see it as a positive. Your friends and family are trying to help. Sometimes, they just don't know how. Yes, the advice can be very annoying. But you have the power to view the glass as half full instead of half empty.

Tell Them How to Help

You can help your loved ones by telling them what they can do for you. Are they good at research? Ask them to find an answer to a question that's been nagging at you. Are they good listeners? Tell them you'll reach out to them when you need a shoulder to cry on. Do they have a flexible schedule? Bring them along to some of the tougher appointments when your partner can't be there with you.

Be honest with them. Tell them the encouraging words, "I love you, I'm here for you, and I'm listening," are more helpful than anything else they can say.

Infertility is a tough road to travel alone. Having friends and family by your side will give you the extra strength you need on the toughest days.