Part of infertility stigma is feeling ashamed because you can’t conceive a baby. These tips for overcoming the shame of infertility may help you cope with your feelings – and with the way people treat you.
“I’ve found that most people don’t truly understand infertility or how it impacts one’s spirit,” writes Kelly Damron in Tiny Toes: A Couple’s Journey Through Infertility, Prematurity, and Depression. “During my journey through infertility, I would alternate between bouts of depression and thinking I was cured.”
The reason people don’t understand infertility is because we don’t talk about it. We’re embarrassed, ashamed, angry, ashamed, or depressed, which makes us clam up. To overcome the stigma and shame of infertility, we really do need to start opening up – because sharing our infertility roller coaster can improve our emotional, mental, and physical health.
5 Tips for Overcoming Infertility Shame
Talk about your situation
The more you talk about infertility, the easier – and more normal – it gets. If talking about it is really difficult, try writing about in your journal, songs, poetry – or even a book, like Kelly did. To help you talk about it with your spouse, read Talking About Infertility With Your Partner.
Whether you’re coping with male infertility (azoospermia, previous STDs, etc) or female infertility (endometriosis, STDs, lack of ovulation, etc) – tell your closest friends and family members first. Get support from people you can trust, who won’t make you feel bad and who understand what you’re going through.
Test the waters
Be careful who you talk to first! You could test the waters by telling people who you’re not close to, who wouldn’t have a hard time accepting it. That may help prepare you if you do decide to tell people whom you aren’t close to and who you know are judgmental or critical. The idea is to start slow and easy, and move your way up to “difficult” family members and friends.
Find people who understand infertility shame
Join in-person infertility support groups, or find an infertility forum that you feel comfortable being yourself on. The more you connect with people who are also facing the infertility roller coaster, the less isolated and weird you’ll feel. To overcome the stigma of infertility, find people who’ve “been there, done that.”
Remember that the “first is worst”
The hardest part of telling people about infertility is at the beginning. But, the more you share your difficulties with getting pregnant, the more normal it gets – not just for you, but for others as well.
Infertility isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s a medical condition – just like diabetes or heart disease. It changes how you see yourself, and it changes your life…but it’s not something to be ashamed of. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to infertility, and the more we talk about it, the less embarrassing and shameful it will be!
If you feel guilty, read Feeling Guilty Because You Can’t Get Pregnant? Forgiving Yourself for Infertility.
Another helpful book Baby Not on Board. It’s a fun approach to a childfree life, which can help you let go of the shame and embrace the benefits !
Are you struggling with infertility shame? I welcome your comments below…