Therapy Thoughts: Infertility
I have stage 4 endometriosis, one of the leading causes of infertility. I’m here to add my voice to the stories of people who deal with the stigmas and barriers that get in the way of building a family.
It’s important to break the silence and open up dialogue around infertility. This is not just a medical issue; it’s a mental health crisis & complex sociocultural issue. Not only have I personally battled the pain of infertility; I counsel people everyday who are navigating it.
Infertility doesn’t discriminate. All people, regardless of sex, religion, socioeconomic status, race, or sexual orientation deal with it. 1 in 8 couples face infertility.
Here are a few things I recommend as we support those dealing with infertility:
1) Remember, having a family and the timing of such is highly personal. Be sensitive to people who don’t want to engage in that conversation. Don’t assume fertility is universal. (Culturally in Utah, people would ask me WHEN I was having kids before they asked where I was from or where I worked).
2) False assurances and platitudes... though well-intended... display a lack of empathy and understanding. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me how I’d conceive naturally once I did IVF... I could have paid for IVF. This type of “fix it” approach further proves our societies obsession with emotional suppression. “Don’t feel sad that you can’t have kids... it’s gonna be fine.” Rather, I suggest you LISTEN. Hold space. Cry with. Ask how you can support.
3) Respect people’s boundaries. Trying to survive in a world where everyone around you is doing the thing... seemingly without much effort... that you so desperately want.... is really hard. Sometimes skipping the baby shower, family dinner, holidays, and parties are the only way we can SURVIVE. It’s not always easy to set boundaries so let’s practice grace.
I want more people to get access, insurance coverage, have support, and find peace in a process I refer to as “hell.” Check out my podcast episode with my friend @camillehawkinslcsw on infertility HERE.
Love you fam,