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Harvard Health Blog
Infertility: Maintaining privacy, avoiding secrecy
- By Ellen S. Glazer, LICSW, Guest Contributor
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I love that you are talking about this topic here on the Harvard health blog which I read often and adore.
I agree with most of what you are saying. You describe shame and the trouble with secrets so perfectly. And it is fascinating how much light Michelle Obama’s IVF story has brought to the infertility community by her simple act of sharing her story. None of us want to feel alone.
However, I don’t really agree with you that infertility patients should exclude details when sharing.
I recently went through IVF and shared details with a few close friends. They supported me by sending supportive texts daily, checking in with me and sending cards. It was such a huge help and though they have never dealt with infertility, I felt I was seen and not alone in this process.
Many women who are pregnant feel free to discuss details: their due date, and later the gender, any pregnancy symptoms or feelings in general – I’m sure that helps immensely with coping during such a stressful time. I find it unfair for women dealing with the long and stressful process of IVF, IUI, surgeries, miscarriage and more to have to simply keep quiet about some (within reason) of their own details and symptoms.
I personally think a couple dealing with infertility should feel able to share as much information with their community as they feel comfortable and not have to worry about making others feel discomfort. It is communication that will slowly dissolve these awkward reactions we all have these days when discussing something so, well, foreign to most.
It is common practice to support pregnant women – for very good and necessary reason. Women especially are great at supporting pregnant friends and even strangers, so why deny women struggling with infertility (or miscarriages) that same support?
With one in eight couples dealing with infertility, discussing the details more often might bring future generations some well-deserved respite.
I must be reading the post differently than you, but I don’t think of it as saying you CAN’T share those details, just that you shouldn’t have to. Some of us have been asked hundreds of times about having kids, and the question gets old fast and is very painful. If we don’t want to talk about it, this is a great way to get people to stop bringing it up without having to give them all the details. By all means, tell your close friends. But coworkers and aquantaintances don’t need to know. Not unless you want to be very open about your struggles, which is your perogative but absolutely should not be expected. That’s what I’m getting from the article.
Aside from that, friends messaging me about it on the daily would annoy the hell out of me. Whatever helps you is up to you. But for me, I think about it enough as it is, I don’t need the constant reminder that I am STILL struggling. Time to forget would better help me. So a good reason there to not tell everyone all the details, for me.
I really enjoyed reading your post and agree very much with what you are saying. I too find it hard that women who are pregnant or have just given birth care share every detail with the world (often too much detail) and that infertility is a secret. Well written, and so relatable. Thank you for sharing.
The latest on damaged fingernails from fungus, please? Thank You.
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