Infertility can be incredibly stressful and put a strain on romantic and platonic relationships. While IVF is an excellent option, the hormones involved and anticipation can make women tired and emotional. It can be invasive and exhausting for couples in general, and support networks are essential at this time.
Knowing What You’re Discussing
Some people confuse IVF with artificial insemination. However, IVF involves complaining eggs and sperm outside the body and then introducing them to the uterus. Making the woman’s body ready for the fertilised egg is quite a long process, involving blood tests, ultrasounds, fertility drugs (which are administered daily), egg extraction, sperm collection, and a procedure to introduce the embryo to the uterus.
Once that’s completed, women also receive daily progesterone injections to improve chances of implantation. If the process hasn’t been successful, your friend may need to go through the process again.
Your friend is unlikely to expect you to know the ins and outs of every treatment, but it can help to ask questions and see how your friend is feeling at different stages. However, towards the end of the process some couples prefer not to discuss it as it can be quite an anxious time – ask your friends for updates, but respect their wishes not to speculate about the results.
Keep in Touch
IVF is a big part of people’s lives, whether they’re going through their 1st or the 4th cycle. Asking how treatment is going or keeping in touch through email, phone calls, or even sending cards will be appreciated. Likewise, if you live nearby it can be helpful to drop by just to talk about it, or do things to take your friend’s mind off treatment for a while.
In most instances, friends are more worried about offending their IVF friend rather than not keeping in touch often enough. Here’s a quick list of things to avoid:
- Don’t ignore the treatment – it’s a big deal and it can be hurtful for friends to act as though it isn’t happening
- Don’t try to make long term plans in advance – your friend may well be pregnant soon, so they don’t know what sort of plans to make and whether they need to consider a baby in those plans
- Don’t complain about your children (if you have them) or suggest your friend should be thankful that they don’t need to deal with particular child-related issues
- Don’t ask what your friend will do if the treatment is unsuccessful
- Don’t suggest that it just takes time
- Don’t talk about Octomom in California
Nice Things You Can Do
There are plenty of things that you can do to make life a little easier for your friend. Many of these are similar to how you’d act with a friend going through any other major event:
- Bring food or volunteer to cook on the day of the retrieval (or other surgeries)
- Make plans that consider your friend’s physical and emotional state (ie. going to a dance class may not be the best idea, but going to a spa could be)
- Ask what you can do to help