Who has earned the right to complain about being infertile?

Our friends and family often don’t “get” infertility, and sometime their attempts to identify with our pain ends up making us feel diminished rather than supported. Have you ever had a friend share their own minor fertility struggle when they hear about yours?

“I know what you mean, infertility is so hard…”

  • We had to try for 8 months to get pregnant.
  • We had to go on Clomid for a month to get pregnant.

Do these statements make you want to scream “You have no freaking idea how hard infertility really is!”

Does their definition of infertility with relatively little struggle diminish what you are going through? How can they compare their puny 8 months of trying or using Clomid to your failed IVF cycle or tens of thousands of dollars spent? Have they earned the right to complain?

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

While often ill timed and clumsily delivered, it seems to me that we need to at least give our clueless friends credit for trying to understand. They may have only dipped their toe into the pain of infertility, but that dip may have given them some understanding of what you are going through.

They often are trying to show support and to give hope by telling you that they understand the pain that you’re experiencing. The problem is when they try to equate that glimmer of understanding to what you’ve experienced with full-fledged infertility.

Where to Draw the Line in Infertility

The problem with limiting our circle of infertility sufferers is where to draw the line. Does the person who got pregnant naturally after trying for 13 months count. Technically they meet the definition, but they never even went to see a fertility specialist. What about someone who got pregnant on their first IVF cycle? Are they “really infertile”? How many miscarriages does it take to enter into our club of suffering?

I don’t have the answer and it seems to be a matter of degrees. Clearly someone that gets pregnant within 6 months should just stay quiet, but personally, I’d include people that have been trying close to a year because for me the gateway to the circle of infertility is that gut-wrenching fear of not ever being able to conceive.

Who do you think deserves to be called “infertile”?


Image credit: Mike Renlund