One in six couples in Canada has a problem infertility, which is defined as an absence of pregnancy after at least 12 months of unprotected sex. Infertility is a source of stress. Research shows that the level of distress of people with infertility is comparable to that of patients with cancer. Rates of depression and anxiety are high, especially in women, who bear most of the physical burden associated with fertility treatments, with frequent ultrasounds and auto-injections of hormones, among other invasive and painful procedures. As a clinical psychologist and researcher specializing in women’s mental health, I concentrated about the support women with infertility need to cope with their situation. It has become clear to me in my work that one of the main sources of stress is the flood of inappropriate comments and advice heard by people struggling with infertility. The results of our most recent study moreover, go in this direction and suggest that women who seek social support to cope with their infertility problem end up feeling even greater distress.
Fertility treatments can involve invasive or painful procedures such as self-injection of hormones. © The Conversation / Shutterstock
1. relax and it will happen on its own
By far, this is the comment people living with infertility hear most often, although there is no clear evidence. than stress contributes to infertility. On the other hand, the study concludes very clearly that a diagnosis of infertility is, in itself, a source of stress. Therefore, it should not be assumed that it was anxiety that led to infertility – it is probably quite the opposite. It is likely that the person struggling with infertility was initially very positive and hopeful, and months, if not years, of failure were the cause of the stress they are experiencing. today.
2. Did you try to put yourself upside down during sex? To stop eating dairy products?
Most of these grandmother’s remedies aren’t backed by any credible research. In addition, this advice is often given without knowing the situation of the person concerned. Imagine being diagnosed with a disease that makes it very difficult to conceive, have had three unsuccessful cycles of IVF, and have had multiple miscarriages. Now imagine how insulting and frustrating it would be to hear that “if only you had cut out dairy products, you would have gotten pregnant a long time ago”. It is better, when you do not know the whole context, to refrain from giving advice. And even if it is known, it is best to let the person’s doctor decide what will help them get pregnant.
3.Don’t worry! I have friends who couldn’t conceive and IVF worked for them!
The prognosis of infertility varies greatly depending on the unique circumstances of each couple: age, diagnosis, reproductive history and hormone levels are all important. determining factors in the success of a treatment. So, unfortunately, the fact that a friend of a friend of a friend got pregnant by IVF (in vitro fertilization) does not mean anything to the person who is experiencing a fertility problem.
4. Are you sure you want children? So take mine!
Kids can be exhausting, and it’s a relief to confide in tough times with friends who are also parents. But in the presence of a person who is unable to conceive, it must be remembered that they would give anything to experience the same exhaustion. Even said jokingly, this kind of phrase can be seen as callous and inappropriate.
5.You just have to consider adopting. There are lots of kids looking for loving homes
Adoption is not easy. It can be incredibly expensive, time consuming and emotionally draining. Wait lists can range from five to ten years, fees can exceed $ 30,000, and multiple parenting assessments must be completed. It is therefore a very important decision which requires a deep thought.
So what should you say to people who suffer from infertility?
Infertility involves grieving a child that the person may never have. We have to think about the attitude we would adopt in front of people who are going through other types of grief, such as a friend whose spouse has died, for example. We would never go and say, “I know you just lost your husband, but try to relax” or, “I’ll leave mine with you!” It sounds more like: “It must be really difficult for you” or: “If you need to talk, I’m here. ” You can also ask the person what can be done for them. Some like to talk about each of the stages in their infertility struggle, while others prefer to avoid the topic and be distracted. So it is okay to ask what is the best way to provide support. Last faux pas to avoid: ask people when they think they are having children. Many people who experience infertility choose not to talk about it. This seemingly innocent question can be heartbreaking for those who are secretly struggling with infertility … so you might as well not ask it.