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How to be a good Friend to someone who is infertile

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How to Be a Good Friend to Someone Dealing with Infertility 

by Jacqueline Thompson Graves 
 
Rather than wink and ask "got a bun in the oven yet?" when you cross paths with your friends struggling with 
infertility, take these words of advice to heart. 
 
1. Don't tell them to relax, get in the bubble bath, go on a vacation or tell them your stories about someone 
who had a baby. The couple has a medical condition and needs more than deep breathing exercises to 
deal with it. 
 
2. Don't tell them there are worse things that could happen to them. Did it make your green beans taste any 
better when your mother told you children were starving in Africa? If you cut your finger to the bone and 
someone said "it could be worse, you could have cut it completely off", would it make your pain any less? 
Same thing. 
 
3. Sometimes people try to comfort a person who can't conceive by saying, "God must not want you to have 
children." That is a cruel thing to say and paints a menacing picture of your God. Besides, if you say that 
and then the person turns up pregnant, you look a bit foolish. Instead... 
 
4. Pray for them, not just to get pregnant, but for all they struggle with, emotionally, physically, mentally, 
financially. They will appreciate your empathy. 
 
5. Keep your own pregnancy story to yourself. If you are pregnant, don't complain about your pregnancy. 
Your friend would give anything to have morning sickness or swollen ankles.  
 
6. Don't offer advice about adoption, insemination or other treatment. Let your friend explore alternatives 
and share what she finds without telling her what to do. She is getting information from medical 
personnel. 
 
7. Holidays stink when a couple is dealing with infertility. Let's face it, holidays are custom made for  big 
families. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's and Father's Day, even July the Fourth picnics all show happy 
families sharing the day. Churches, synagogues and  other places of worship honor moms and dads on 
their special days, host Grandparents' Days, Baby Days and more events that serve to remind the childless 
couple they are failing to deliver a baby to an expectant world. Friends tread a thin line between leaving 
the couple out and inviting them to a painful celebration. Your friend may not be able to handle mall 
shopping this year filled with Santa, happy children and toys when she is hurting. 
 
8. If you invite a friend dealing with infertility to an event such as a baby shower or where someone will be 
announcing a baby on the way, give her advance warning. She can choose to manage the invitation by 
attending, dropping off a gift early but not staying for the entire event, sending a gift with regrets that she 
has "plans" even if those plans are simply to skip the stressful event, or to attend if she is having a good 
day and feels up to going. Be understanding if, at the last minute, your friend cannot attend your shower, 
picnic, reunion, girls' night out or bunko game. If she is having infertility treatments, she is a walking 
hormonal bomb waiting to explode or implode and she needs understanding, not criticism. Send her a 
text message or email the next day just to say "I missed you and I understand" and leave it at that. 
 
9. If your friend suffers a miscarriage, she needs to grieve, just as if she had lost a child who had already 
been born. She may need physical help: meals carried in, house cleaning, childcare, assistance with a 
memorial service, out of town guests who need a place to stay. As she works through the stages of grief, 
she simply needs you to be there for her. 
 
10. "People don't think of infertility as a disease," states Kate Badey, Volunteer Coordinator for the Georgia 
chapter of RESOLVE. "Cancer patients, for example, get surrounded by support when they are getting 
treatment - pot roasts, childcare, cards, hugs. Those battling infertility don't look sick or act sick. Their 
pain is all on the inside." If your friend has a failed IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle or an adoption that falls 
through, she will need support and care while she grieves and deals with the emotional fallout from her 
crisis. A plate of cookies and a little note that says "I'm here for you" will help her know she is not alone. 
 
11. Don't forget the man in the picture. Women get all the attention because they are often the information 
seekers and are more willing to talk about their feelings, but men suffer, too. Father's Day is an especially 
difficult time for them.
 
12. Sometimes the best thing a friend can do is be there and be quiet. In the Old Testament book of Job, 
when his friends came to comfort him, they sat with him in silence for three days. Not many of us could 
keep our mouths shut for three minutes, let alone three days!  
 
What to Say to a Friend Dealing with Infertility
These suggestions, taken from Carol Fulwiler Jones' book, Hopeful Heart, Peaceful Mind: Managing Infertility, 
give you a way to communicate to your friend without sounding judgmental, intrusive or disrespectful. You 
don't want your friend to be in pain and you don't  want to say something that will offend her. Sometimes 
silence and a hug are best. Other times, try these:
 
• Infertility seems stressful. Is there anything I can do? 
• Infertility is something I don't understand. Is there a book or website I can read? 
• You have lots of doctor appointments. Can I go with you or drive you? 
• You have surgery scheduled. Can I bring dinner or help you in some way? 
• It's ok with me if you choose not to parent. A couple is a family, too. 
• I will respect your privacy. I'm here to listen whenever you're ready to talk. 
• I've never been through infertility. I don't know what it's like. I want to support you if you tell me what 
you need. 
• I hope you'll be successful in building your family. There are many treatments and I'll support the choices 
you make.  
 
Carol's book,  Hopeful Heart, Peaceful Mind: Managing Infertility can be ordered from her website: 
http://theinfertilitycounselor.com or at http://www.Amazon.com. 
The book is a guide addressing the emotional and spiritual needs of couples and individuals struggling with 
infertility. Chapter titles include: The Illusion of Being in Control, Deciding Who to Tell and When,  How to Find 
Medical Help. A glossary of terms and a resource section are included for practical application. 
To contact Carol Fulwiler Jones, MA, LPC, LMFT:  Phone: (404) 633-3041  
Website: http://theinfertilitycounselor.com
 
For more information about RESOLVE (the National Infertility Association) visit  http://www.resolve.org
Contact 888.473.3062 or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Information about the events mentioned in my June article: Infertility: Struggling Toward Parenthood is available 
at http://www.resolve.org. 
 

 All in the Family Counselling specializes in offer infertility counselling to individuals, couples and group support. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

 

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