Coping with infertility: Don't give up hope, and more advice

Story highlights

  • Readers share their advice on dealing with difficulties in getting pregnant
  • Don't give up hope, and know that you're not alone, they say
This report is part of our coverage during Infertility Awareness Week. Share your story with us on iReport or use the hashtag #InfertilityStories on Twitter.

(CNN)When it comes to sharing stories about personal topics, sometimes hesitancy is followed by an opening of the floodgates.

That's what happened when we asked readers to share their infertility stories with us on iReport. They opened up about their personal journeys, but also provided advice for people experiencing infertility, and the families of these couples, as well.
This is what they shared:
    1. Don't give up hope. Although infertility feels like the greatest challenge that can't be overcome, those who reached out to us fortified the belief that there is always hope.
    2. You're not alone. If there was a prominent sentiment among more than 200 iReports, it was this one. Don't keep your struggle to yourself. Reach out and share your story with a close family member, friend or, like many of our iReporters, join a support group. It's therapeutic, and it raises awareness. Sharing their stories through blogs or forums has also allowed many of them to connect with one another.
    3. Don't be ashamed. Many readers reinforced the idea that infertility is nothing to be ashamed of and not to blame yourself. Don't forget: It's not your fault. This applies to men as well. Others around you who can't relate or don't understand what you're experiencing might make you feel this way, even without meaning to. Don't let them.
    4. Focus on your marriage. Infertility can be overwhelming for couples, whether they're just beginning to navigate through appointments and options or enduring a third or fourth round of treatment. It's important to not blame each other if something doesn't work and to remember that you're going through this together. Talk about what you're feeling with each other.
    5. Be honest with each other. Some of our iReporters advised that couples shouldn't give up or be discouraged if they meet with failure. Others firmly believed in setting boundaries before embarking on a quest for the right option. That way, if something doesn't work, couples have already agreed on what they want to try and how much they are willing to spend. But the bottom line is, if you refuse to give up or want to have a list of specifics going in, be honest with one another and agree on what's best for both of you so you know when to keep pushing or let up.
    6. Get a second opinion. Open communication with your doctor is also important. If you're not completely confident in a doctor's guidance, seek out another opinion to ensure you're making the right decision.
    7. Shop around. Similarly, fertility procedures and treatments can be expensive. "Many fertility clinics have open houses during which you can meet the staff, hear about their methods and expertise, and most importantly, get a lot of your fertility questions answered free of charge," iReporter Angela Cannon said. She also recommended keeping copies of your records and conducting your own research.
    8. Allow yourself to grieve. Whether it's a failed treatment, a miscarriage or an unexpected challenge, it's OK to grieve, our readers wrote. Allow yourself time. Even if it means removing yourself from certain social situations that might seem painful for a little while, respect yourself and your emotions.
    9. You can start over. Whether it's allowing yourself to consider a new option or reaching a point of acceptance, many iReporters shared the sentiment that not achieving the desired result is not the end.
    10. Don't put your life, or your marriage, on hold. Embrace hobbies, allow new passions into your life, pursue something you've always wanted to do.
    Finally, for families and friends of those experiencing infertility, iReporter Brenda Thornlow shared tips about what not to say.
    Advice: "You need to relax."
    What we hear: "It's your fault." Women who experience infertility already feel terrible about themselves. They feel like they're doing everything wrong; their body is failing them; their hormones are going ballistic. If they're getting treatments, let me tell you, those treatments are so invasive you no longer feel that there is anything sacred or private about your body.
    Question: "Have you thought about adoption?"
    What we're thinking: Because it's just that easy? If the couple has already been going through fertility treatments, they've most likely shelled out a lot of money, even if their insurance covers it. There are still a lot of out-of-pocket costs. Some couples are able to swing it, others aren't. No one entirely knows another person's personal and financial situation. Be sure to keep that in mind when talking to someone about this.
    Statement: "You may be too old to have kids."
    What we're thinking: Thank you! There's always room to feel more inadequate than I already feel!
    Statement: "It wasn't God's plan for you or wasn't meant to be."
    What we're thinking: Allow your friend to grieve, be angry or complain; they need to feel this way right now. They may be consumed with the fact that seemingly less responsible and deserving people are able to have what they can't have, and this statement will only add insult to injury.
    What you can say: Let them know how sorry you are and if they need to talk, you are there for them. Every one of us, no matter what we've been through, sometimes just needs to have someone to listen to us without the other person giving their two cents.