Today is National Face Your Fears Day. People have many different fears, including public speaking, socializing with strangers, heights, making big changes in life, and sharing something that they’ve been keeping a secret. Talking about infertility with your family and friends is an overwhelming experience for most people. As time goes on and you haven’t gotten that positive pregnancy test you’ve been dreaming of, the fear that your vision of a family will never come true grows and escalates. As you probably already know, fear holds us back from moving forward in our lives.
Coming Out of the Infertility Closet
You may have seen people discussing their infertility journey on social media under the “Coming out of the Infertility Closet” campaign. It started with one couple trying to win a donated cycle of IVF. They made a video about their three year process of trying to start their family with no success and hitting the end of the road for what they could afford to do. With some hesitation, the couple shared their video on social media and they received an outpouring of support. Since then, many couples have turned to social media to share their own experience with the world, to help people understand, and to break the silence and isolation of keeping their infertility a secret. Even celebrities are going public with their struggles, including Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman, Chrissy Teigen, and John Legend.
Why are people so hesitant to talk about infertility with those that care about them or to share it publicly? There is still stigma and shame associated with infertility. People going through it (both men and women) feel a sense of embarrassment, inadequacy, identity confusion, and failure. There’s also a general lack of understanding about what infertility is and isn’t (click here to read more about myths and facts of infertility).
A survey of infertile couples found that 61% of couples hid their infertility from family and friends; 50% didn’t even share it with their mothers. About 70% of women shared that infertility made them feel “flawed” and half of men felt “inadequate.” With 1 in 8 couples experiencing infertility in the US, why do we continue to view the subject as taboo? Why is it so hard for us to talk about these issues?
You probably fear that other people will judge you, think there’s something wrong with you, or say something that will hurt your feelings. The truth is those are realistic possibilities (read post about how to communicate with your friends and family about infertility). People will unintentionally say hurtful things or be uneducated about your condition, but most people will be there to support you. Isolation is one of the most common and serious side effects of going through infertility. People often keep the issue to themselves, avoid gatherings in which pregnant women or children will be present, stay away from family functions as to be able to hide their secret, and cut off social relationships. But your family and friend relationships are an important part of your healing process.
Although you may not be ready to share your journey with the world on social media, I do encourage you to take some steps in overcoming your fears. Talk to a close friend, discuss your experience with a family member, attend a support group, or contact a therapist. Don’t let your fear keep you stuck in a bad place when there is a community out there to support you. There’s no need to go through this alone. Face your fears starting right now, today.
To get help facing your fears of talking about infertility and the struggle you have been going through, contact me at (832) 827-3288 for a free phone consultation. I work with couples facing the scariest parts of life, such as infertility, come together, conquer their challenges, and discover how strong and amazing their relationship can be.