Tough Times – Infertility


Struggling with fertility is a roller coaster of emotions. Will I have a baby this year? Do I go for this promotion opportunity? Will I ever parent??? And disappointments. Not this time. Maybe next year it will happen. The nature of this pain can be private because of its private parts, and because it feels shameful to want something so badly when it feels so out of reach, and so easily attained by others. For some useful, general tips on being supportive we direct you to the Empathy Basics. Now, read on.


  • Have patience. We know it’s frustrating to watch your friend try and try again. But before you utter something like, “Maybe you should……”, stop yourself and remember: this is their choice and you just have to stand by them. 
  • When there is “not pregnant” news, just say, “I am sorry.” It doesn’t get old.
  • If you’re close and were told it didn’t work out recognize this is a BIG deal. Call. Come by.
“Questions even on the playground would start, like, ‘do you want kids?’ And snowball into ‘whose problem is it?’ and ‘have you tried XY or Z’? It’s just so hard because this issue is so private, and out there for the whole world to see and comment on.”

NO, NO, NO!!

  • You’re excited. We understand. But don’t ask your friend if she is pregnant. Really.
  • Avoid advice like: relax, eat organic, don’t think about it, go on vacation, do yoga. You may feel this worked for you, but serious infertility is a medical issue that won’t be healed by downward dog alone. And see The Basics for more on how to handle advice generally.
  • We know you’re curious. But don’t ask about the cost unless your friend volunteers it.
  • Those medical questions that you might be curious about? Do they really use a turkey baster? Sperm or eggs? HOLD OFF! Unless your friend is volunteering this information (and some will!), they really don’t want to talk about it. The details of someone’s fertility issues can feel Personal with a capital P. If you are close, ask something vague about “the medical process” and let them decide how much to share.
“People don’t want to be blamed for their problems, and they don’t want to have to explain or defend their choices.”

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