How Open Should You Be About Your Infertility

Dawn Davenport


How open should you be in telling others about your infertility? There are pros, for sure, but also cons.

How open should you be in telling others about your infertility? There are pros, for sure, but also cons.

There has been a push of sorts to bring infertility out of the shadows. Open up; tell the world; you owe it to the movement. How else can we change public opinion and legislation affecting infertility treatments unless people know who are the faces of infertility? While I completely understand and agree, I wonder about the downside to openness.

Pros to Openly Talking about Infertility

  • Infertility is nothing to be ashamed of and continued silence lends the impression that there is.  We all need to talk about infertility to remove the stigma.
  • Talking about infertility allows others to support you. Most people in our lives want to be supportive, and giving and getting support are the essence of family and friendship.
  • More people than you can imagine have experienced or are experiencing infertility. You won’t find out about them unless you let people know you are infertile. You may be a blessing in someone else’s life by letting them know what you are going through.
  • Being open about infertility, allows others to be open about their struggles in other areas with you. Once people understand that you’ve experienced great pain in your life, they may feel comfortable talking with you about their life pains.

Cons to Openly Talking about Infertility

  • Infertility is personal damnit. It involves sex—ineffective sex maybe, but sex nonetheless, and it’s no one else’s damn business. ‘Nuff said?!? Besides, diminished ovarian reserves or male factor infertility can make you feel less of a woman or man, which is not something you want to readily share.
  • Talking about infertility makes you open to everyone’s advice, and we all know how unhelpful most advice about infertility is when coming from the fertility blessed.
  • Infertility is too tender a subject to talk about with the world. Talking about infertility makes you cry and you don’t choose to be this vulnerable with people outside of your closest circle.
  • Some people are very judgmental about infertility treatment, and some even oppose it on religious or moral grounds. Many of these folks are self-righteous and not above judging someone who avails themselves of modern fertility treatments.
  • Once you open the door about your infertility, you can’t go back and close it. Everyone will know you are infertile and will always know you are trying to get pregnant, or that your child was conceived through fertility treatments.

Open vs. OPEN

There is open, and then there is really open.  It’s possible to be honest that you suffer from the disease of infertility, but be private about the details, especially the details of what fertility treatment you are using and when.

Selectively Open

I’m a big believer in getting support.  Without support you may end up wearing out the subject with the few people you’ve told.  Even your dear spouse could probably benefit from your having someone other than him to bounce your feelings off of. The best support, in my opinion, comes from the “been there, still in the midst of it” or “been there, and lived to tell the tale” crowd. Even if you choose to keep mum with the rest of the world, consider joining an in-person or online infertility support group. (One of the best is the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group)

How open have you been about your infertility. If you had it to do over again, would you do the same?


Image credit:  Pete Georgiev

17/07/2013 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 17 Comments

17 Responses to How Open Should You Be About Your Infertility

  1. Cindy Modrosic Cindy Modrosic says:

    we kept it private from most family and friends until we quit treatment and started adoption. now we are very open about it. i didn’t need the questions and comments at the time. i had wonderful online support from friends instead. i also had great support from the small group of IRL friends that knew.

  2. Avatar Ashlee Minto says:

    When we started seeing our specialist I opened up to my family and our close friends. No one meant anything by it, by I was getting hurt by the constant questions about when were having children. The support from those who know is overwhelming! Even when some do not know the details of where we are in cycles, they call or text at just the right time to say they are thinking about us.
    My mother-in-law and two sister-in-laws, well that is another story. Even before seeking treatment they have been very hostile about us having children. My husband has finally stopped defending them because it bothers him more than his stoicism. They will never be privileged to our struggles with infertility but with the support we get from my family and our friends, we do not need their negativity anyway.
    We will be starting our third and final attempt with IVF in November so I am hoping I can give my husband the best Christmas present ever!

  3. Avatar Greg says:

    When my wife and I first went for our infertility diagnosis last December we felt it was time to let just our parents know. The reason is we wanted the questions and comments about us having children. Little did we know that in a matter of weeks we would have our infertility diagnosis within a matter of weeks. We did share with them as well as other family members. We also let our close friends know that it’s impossible for us to conceive a child. I have been more open about it than my wife has but I have had to learn that I need to be aware of how open I am and how it impacts her. I’ve had to learn the hard way. Opening up has led to a few pieces of unwarranted advice but not as bad as I thought. More so than anything I’ve received a lot of empathy, which is all I am looking for.

    • Greg, you’re right, it can be tricky when both partners don’t agree on the amount of openness. As with many things in marriage, it’s a process of weighing needs and compromising.

  4. Avatar Aine says:

    I was quiet about our infertility until I realized it made no difference to anyone else, and all the difference to me. Talking about it allowed me to let out some of my anxiety and stress, to stop hiding all the appointments and bathroom breaks for medications and all the times when I went out with friends and didn’t get drinks because I *might* be pregnant this time. At this point I tell lots of people; my veterinarian, someone I get into a conversation with at a clinic, family, it doesn’t matter. Once you start to tell people you become shocked by how many people respond “Me too! We did IVF for our child!” and suddenly you don’t feel alone anymore. It’s such a wonderful relief.

  5. Avatar Susanna says:

    We have been quite private. Immediate family have been told that we are hoping to have a family but it’s not happening as fast as we’d like, and that we are seeing if there is anything medicine can do to help. And that if we have news, we’ll share it. It’s hard sometimes because infirtility becomes such a big part of your life especially during a cycle, that I feel as if I am being dishonest when I say, ‘oh, not much is going on.” But then, when our cycles failed I was so relieved that I didn’t have to tell anyone other than my husband. It would have been so hard to deal with sharing that news.

    I hesitated for a long time to join Creating a Family’s group because I was afraid that my Facebook friends would somehow be able to see that I was a member. But I got over that and I’m really glad I joined.

    • Susanna, [It’s hard sometimes because infertility becomes such a big part of your life especially during a cycle, that I feel as if I am being dishonest when I say, ‘oh, not much is going on.” But then, when our cycles failed I was so relieved that I didn’t have to tell anyone other than my husband. It would have been so hard to deal with sharing that news.]

      I hear that a lot from people. I call it the double edged sword of telling or not telling. Glad you’re a part of our group.

  6. Avatar Courtney says:

    I struggled for a long time about being open with others about my PCOS and infertility issues. I felt ashamed and I was afraid family and friends would look down on me. I use to say we aren’t in any rush or it will happen when its meant to happen when really it was killing me inside to see everyone around me getting pregnant. Then after starting our adoption process I felt that it wasn’t something to be ashamed about anymore. Everyone has been very supportive for us. They have alot of questions, but never negative. We have only had one person who has been somewhat negative about it, but we just try not to associate ourselves with them. For me personally opening up about my infertility and PCOS helped me deal with the depression I was having with not getting pregnant.

  7. I’ve been more open than I should have been and now I feel extra vulnerable. I have unfortunately found it very isolating with most of my friends and it makes relationships awkward.

    But I don’t know if I’d change that if I could, because I don’t think infertility should be a dirty secret. We aren’t going to help people be more sensitive or help get more insurance coverage, etc. for our medical condition if we want to hide and pretend it doesn’t exist. /MMB
    (hi from IComLeaveWe)

    • Missingmybabies, I hear you. It’s hard though to do whats good for the cause, so to speak, when it makes our lives harder. Sorry you didn’t find the support within your community.

  8. Avatar Jo says:

    Initially we were very open as my husband underwent surgery to reverse a vasectomy. Once we did not fall pregnant immediately, the unsolicited, and often painful, advice started streaming in. I ended one friendship with someone who was very invasive and pushy about her views of what we were doing wrong and in the process got much quieter in general. Our closest friends and family know we’re going through treatments but we don’t share the details with many. Dealing with the ignorance and judgment was really too much to handle on top of the disappointment of ttc for over 3 years with no success.

  9. Avatar Cindy M. says:

    oh i agree with you 110%! someone actually posted recently “well, if i adopt then maybe i’ll get pg.” um, please don’t do that to a child. i have 3 friends who got pg after many yrs of treatment and then stopping treatment. 1 adopted, but she also had a toxic tumor removed. the other 2 just stopped treatment and still got pg. glad you have the research to back that up. i’ve quoted it to several people. 🙂

  10. Avatar Jo says:

    Cindy Modrosic It’s not that I’m against adopting, I just don’t see it as an effective fertility treatment 😉

  11. Avatar Cindy M. says:

    jo – ha! good point. the person who said that to me was actually another a-mom! i told her that even if i did ovulate and didn’t have male factor and immune issues, my tied tubes (endo) and BPCs slowed that down. 🙂

  12. Avatar Jo says:

    I realized what has made it easier to deal with the unsolicited advice is to get more clarity on our individual fertility challenges and educate myself on infertility as a whole. Now when someone says, “You should just adopt, then you’ll get pregnant”, I can let them know this is a myth with evidence to back me up. Actually is I had a dollar for every time someone suggests I adopt in order to get pregnant, we’d be close to affording IVF 🙂

  13. Avatar Mary Jolynn says:

    I always compare the ” adopt and you will get pregnant” mantra to an imaginary scenario: imagine you had been working in an office for many years and you ask your boss for a raise. Your boss says no, no matter how many times you ask. Frustrated by this, you vent to a friend who tells you “oh, why don’t you just buy a lottery ticket, maybe this will cause your boss to change his/her mind” The two things are not connected, and have no relation whatsoever to each other. Conceiving a baby is a biological process, and going through a legal process like adoption had no effect whatsoever on what one’s body is and is not capable of in terms of conception.

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