Family and friends failing women with infertility
A survey of more than 300 women finds they aren’t getting the critical support they need when coping with infertility.
Researchers at the University of Iowa say spouses, friends and relatives fall short when it comes to helping women deal with the stresses of not being able to have a baby.
“Infertility is a more prevalent issue than people realize. It affects one in six couples, and in almost all cases, women want more support than they are getting,” said study leader Keli Steuber, assistant professor in communication studies at the UI, in a news release.
The women who responded to the survey said their needs aren’t complicated. They would like more help at home with household chores and emotional reassurance, among other things. A simple, “I love you,” from a spouse can go a long way, the study found.
And when the support doesn’t come, it raises the risk for some serious blues.
“Without this support, women wrestling with infertility may become depressed or be less able to cope with stress,” researchers said.
Complicating matters, when close friends and family do try to show encouragement, they don’t do it very well.
“Though family and friends have the best of intentions, they tend to dole out too much advice,” study leaders said. “It’s best to keep the advice to a minimum and instead focus on other ways to be supportive. That could be as simple as cooking a meal or connecting your loved one to other women with whom she can share her feelings.”
One thing that would really help is if husbands were more engaged in the process by going along on doctor visits or researching options together, the survey showed.
“Becoming more involved gives you the opportunity to be more emotionally invested,” researchers said.
Health experts say clinicians can play a vital role in supporting moms-to-be.
“In addition to family support, a couple going through infertility evaluation and treatment needs health care providers who are continuously engaged with them,” says Dr. Nasir Rana, of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois and Medical Director of Reproductive Medicine Institute.
“We as health care providers should do everything possible in a caring and individualized manner to meet their expectations. We should work as a team to help those who need our assistance in starting a family.”
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