June 20, 2020 17h56
Updated at 18h53
Five things not to say to those who suffer from infertility problems
Jennifer L. Gordon
Assistant professor, psychology, University of Regina
In Canada, one couple in six experiences a problem of infertility, defined as the absence of pregnancy after at least 12 months of unprotected sex.
Infertility is a source of stress. The research shows that the level of distress of persons suffering from infertility is comparable to that of patients with cancer. The rates of depression and anxiety are high, in particular among women, who bear the largest part of the physical burden associated with fertility treatments, with ultrasounds and frequent self-injections of hormones, among other procedures, invasive and painful.
As a clinical psychologist and researcher specializing in women’s mental health, I focused on the support the women suffering from infertility need to cope with their situation.
It appeared to me clearly, in the context of my work, that one of the main sources of stress is the stream of comments and advice which is inappropriate what do the people who are struggling against infertility. The results of our latest study are in line with this direction and suggest that women who seek social support to cope with their problem of infertility end up feeling a distress even greater.
It is clear that some public education is necessary. It is with the help of the research advisory group on infertility in my team (six women who have personal experience with infertility) that I’ve identified the five things not to say to someone struggling with infertility.
1. Relax and it will happen all alone
This is by far the comment that people struggling with infertility to hear more often, even if there is no clear evidence that stress contributes to infertility.
However, the study concludes very clearly that a diagnosis of infertility is, in itself, a source of stress. It must not, therefore, from the principle that it is the anxiety that has led to the infertility – it is without doubt, quite the contrary. It is probable that originally, the person struggling with a problem of infertility has been very positive and full of hope, and of the months, or even years, of failure to be at the origin of the stress that she lives today.
2. Have you tried to put you head down for the love ? Not to eat dairy products ? And so on…
Most of these remedies of grandmothers are not based on any credible research. In addition, these tips are often provided without knowledge of the situation of the person concerned.
Imagine that you are diagnosed with a disease that makes the design very difficult, as you have undergone three IVF cycles which have failed and that you have had several miscarriages. Now imagine how it would be offensive and frustrating to hear that ” if only you had removed the dairy, you’d be pregnant a long time ago “. It is better, when you don’t know the full context, refrain from giving advice. And even if we know it, it is better to let the doctor of the person to decide what is going to help to get pregnant.
3. Don’t you worry ! I have friends who couldn’t conceive, and IVF has worked for them !
The prognosis of infertility varies greatly depending on the particular circumstances of each couple : the age, diagnosis, history, reproductive, and hormone levels are all major factors in the success of a treatment. And, unfortunately, the fact that a friend of a friend of a friend has fallen pregnant through IVF (in vitro fertilization) means nothing to the person who lives a fertility problem.
4. Are you sure you·e wanted children ? Here, take mine !
Children can be exhausting, and it is a relief to talk about difficult moments with friends, also parents. But in the presence of a person who fails to conceive, it must be remembered that she would give everything to know the same exhaustion. Even said on the tone of the joke, this kind of sentence can be perceived as insensitive and inappropriate.
5. You have only to consider adopting. There are lots of children looking for a loving home
Adoption is anything but simple. It can be incredibly costly, time-consuming and exhausting on the emotional level. Waiting lists can range from five to ten years, the costs can exceed $ 30,000 and must undergo multiple evaluations in parenting skills. It is therefore a very important decision that requires careful thought.
So, what does it say ?
Infertility involves grief of a child that the person may or may not have ever. One should think of the attitude we adopt to people who live in other types of bereavement, such as a friend whose spouse died, for example. We would never go to say to him : “I know that you just lost your husband, but try to relax “or :” I will let you have mine!!! “He seems to be rather something like :” It must be really difficult for you “or even :” If you need to talk, I’m here. “
You can also ask the person what they can do about it. Some like to talk about each of the stages of their fight against infertility, while others prefer to avoid the topic and get distracted. There is, therefore, not wrong to ask what is the best way to provide support.
Last faux pas to avoid : ask people when they think of having children. There are many people facing infertility who choose not to talk about it. This question, innocent in appearance, can be a real heart-breaking for those who are struggling in secret against infertility… so, might as well not ask it.
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This text first appeared on the site of the franco-canadian of The Conversation. Reproduced with permission.