Is It Helpful To Talk To Family About Infertility?

I was asked this question by a first time support group attending husband this week’s support group.

My first question back to him was “Why do you want to tell them?”

Unless you have family members who have been through infertility, my advice is to find a support group to talk about it first.

Having a network of other people who have actually gone through the complex roller coaster of emotions with infertility, and understand all the acronyms and ART jargon can be an incredibly nurturing experience.

Most people go the other direction though: confiding in family members who have never gone through infertility only to find their platitudes and advice are not only unhelpful, but are often emotionally destructive.

They often show up at the first support group guarded at first, until they realize that they won’t be flinching from the pain of some insensitive comment and most certainly won’t hear the words ‘you just need to relax’ out of the mouths of anyone in the room.

The truth is there is just too much ignorance out there about infertility to safely share your journey with someone who hasn’t gone through it.

I hope that with the growing library of books and blogs on this topic that will change, and all the celebrities who keep coming out and talking about it will continue to raise awareness and ultimately generate some educated empathy guidelines.  But until that empathy transforms into new social graces when it comes to how to speak to someone going through infertility, I’d say beware of telling fertile friends and families your infertility woes.

Online support groups or Resolve support groups are without a doubt the most helpful and safe way to share your infertility journey.

2 Responses to Is It Helpful To Talk To Family About Infertility?

  1. I did not follow your advice (I had no idea who Denny Ceizyk was back then) way back in March of this year (2013) when I found out I had azoospermia. The first person I told was my wife and the second people we told were my parents. Other family members found out later and I eventually mustered up the courage to tell my friends. We did not throw any jargon at them because we ourselves knew no jargon, we just knew our road to parenthood was going to be very tough and we need compassion and support. For a while family and friends were all I needed for support. Then I began to feel the need for support outside of friends and family from people who could relate to what I was going through. My introduction to the infertility community was less than stellar. My first impression based on all the websites I visited was that it was a place dominated by women that only cared about women. Luckily, I stumbled upon your book and blog. That gave me some hope that male fertility was being recognized by someone. As I continued my search, I came upon RESOLVE’S online message board. I immediately joined because I figured online support is better than none at all. My first post was a bit controversial and I was actually attacked by some for what I said. I opined about what I felt was a female bias in the infertility community (this post is still available at, I post under the name “SouthernCalifornia”). Online support was great and I was even encouraged by one member to start my own blog (which you can visit if you click on my name at the top of this post). After awhile, online support was not enough, I needed face-to-face support. I thought about starting or attending a support group before deciding that one-on-one therapy was the best course of action. My therapist is a Christian like me and has also personally been through infertility. We end every session with a prayer. I have found therapy to be the most helpful method in coping with infertility. As a bonus, I have been able to begin working on other issues in my life that have nothing to do with infertility (work anxiety, marital difficulties, etc.)

  2. Thank you Denny for such a well written article. I have a brother who is infertile and we are so happy that he told us about it. We are his support group but maybe time will come that he will feel the same way as “infertile male” felt, the need for a support group who can relate to what he is dealing with. I will share this article to him so that he will be able to welcome the idea of having a wide support group. Thank you so much.

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