Keep reading to educate yourself about the best ways to help a friend struggling with infertility.
Understand they might feel shameEven in circumstances where each partner in a couple has a normal functioning reproductive system and is age 29 to 33, that couple has only a 20-25% of conceiving during any given month. The pain of not being able to conceive can be overwhelming for couples who aren't actually struggling with infertility. But if one or both partners have conditions that make it harder to conceive, they may actually feel a lot of shame and guilt in their struggle. A lot of couples may feel (either consciously or subconsciously) that they are to blame for their fertility problems, even if their conditions are in no way their fault. You should remind them that the shame they're feeling is common but is no way based in reality. Make sure they know there is nothing they could have done differently to ease these issues and they are taking all of the right steps.
Don't be overly optimistic or completely skepticalUltimately, your friend wants you to be realistic. While it may feel kinder to sugarcoat your sympathies or prepare them for the worst, neither of these approaches will provide the comfort and sincerity that they need during this time. The best thing you can do is acknowledge their fears in a gentle yet tactful way. Be hopeful about the methods their fertility experts are using and their outcomes, but discuss possible backup plans, too. High stress levels won't help in a time like this, so it's best to take some of the pressure off the here and now.
Get them out of their own headSometimes, the best thing you can do is to help your friends get their mind off things for a little while. Fertility issues can be all-consuming for many couples, and worrying to excess truly won't do any good. Take some time on the weekend or even during the work week to take them out of the house and do something mindless and fun. Put a nix on the IVF and pregnancy talk during this time and just focus on each other. Pick something your friend loves to do -- be it going to an amusement park, a museum, a baseball game, or a spa -- and treat yourselves to a little escape. While it's not constructive to try to run away from your problems, we could all use a break.
Simply listenOne of the most helpful things you can do for your friend is to just listen. Resist the urge to unload your own problems or compare situations. Do not judge or get distracted by your devices. More than likely, your friend could use a listening ear and an open heart. Although they may really need to talk, your friend may be hesitant to talk about these issues at first. Don't push them to talk if they don't want to, but let them know that you're here unconditionally. If your friend needs to vent, let them vent. They don't expect (nor will they want) you to come up with the perfect solution. They just want to be heard and acknowledged during this period.
Regardless of the specifics, the struggle to conceive can be extremely difficult -- especially if you feel like you're alone. But by letting your friend know that you are here to listen, brainstorm, distract, and comfort, you'll make a huge difference in their life.