How to deal with the awkwardness of infertility

How do you deal with comments about infertility?

Infertility: the origin of awkward remarks

As an infertile, having to deal with the remarks of those around you is one of the most difficult things about infertility. Of course, these phrases are often uttered just when you least expect them... enough to make you lose your footing completely and destabilise you in public.

Above all, some can provoke feelings of guilt, as if it were 'your fault'. Of course, this is not the case. These are 'just' phrases uttered like platitudes by most people, who forget that the decision to start a family is a very personal matter.

There are two types of people who are at the root of these clumsinesses in the face of infertility:

  • Those who know nothing about your history: In this case, it's a huge blunder that often starts with a good intention (to see you give birth, to see you happy, etc.).
  • It's also the case for those who know what you're going through and have absolutely no idea what to do to support you, encourage you, or help you during your fertility treatment. And the discomfort is so great that... this kind of nonsense ends up coming out of their mouths, even though they are aware of the difficulties you are experiencing.


Infertility: preparing for awkward moments

First of all, take care of yourself. Whether it's a woman or a man, infertility is hard enough on a day-to-day basis, so there's no need to add a sense of guilt or suppressed anger because you're caught off guard and the remark is made in public.

And in order to preserve yourself, you need to be clear about what you want:

  • Do you want to talk about it to those around you?
  • Are you prepared to talk openly about your infertility, answer any questions you may have, and explain any failure?
  • To whom specifically?
  • Are you prepared to talk about it to everyone? Or do you think it's better to be selective about who you confide in?
  • What exactly do you want to tell them?
  • Are you prepared to tell them everything, explaining the different stages you go through, or would you prefer simply to say that you're trying and that they'll be told when Mother Nature has made up her mind?

Once you've clarified the situation, it's a good idea to think about how you'll respond the next time you hear this kind of phrase.

This will help you to be prepared and to have a minimum of repartee (while adding a touch of humour and, above all, preserving your secret if you so choose).

To do this, make a list of the most frequently disturbing questions/phrases. This will prevent you from feeling unsettled the next time.

Even if you really want to, don't respond in an aggressive or ironic way. What would be the point? If it doesn't hurt people who care about you and who are expressing their feelings in any way they can, even in an awkward way...


Written by:

Mia FIEVEZ, specialist therapist
Creator of the I'am Method
Author of the book 'C'est parce que t'y penses trop!'

Fertility Female InfertilityMale Infertility

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