How to Cope With Fertility Forum Drama

A woman sitting on her bed looking at a fertility forum on her computer

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When I first looked for an infertility community online, I found a few really supportive groups. I was lucky. We cheered for each other, and we held onto hope for each other. When one of us had a loss, we cried for each other. But most importantly, the support was pretty much unconditional.

Trying for your first or third child? Didn’t matter. Trying for a year or eight years? Didn’t matter. Experienced no lost pregnancies or many lost pregnancies? Didn’t matter. If you needed support, you received support.

This is how it should be. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. In fact, sometimes the dialog and dynamic in online infertility forums can get really ugly—and the ensuing drama can become stressful, unproductive, and unsetting in its own right.

Competing for Who Has It Worse

It can be easy to get sucked into a competitive mindset where you compare who has it worse. This can be a seductive mind game. Some people get hooked on this thinking and bring it into fertility forum chats. It's not unique to infertility survivors, but we do have our own version of the game. There are two ways it's often played.

In one version of this game, we have it worse and someone else (or everyone else) has it better. Examples of this thinking may go like this:

  • I've been trying for four years, but they have only been trying for two.
  • I have no children but they have at least one already.
  • They have only taken Clomid but I've done IVF.
  • They've tried for the same number of years as I have and have done IVF as many times as I've done—but they at least miscarried once. They know they can get pregnant. I haven't even miscarried.

This unproductive, comparative dynamic can extend to both the women and men struggling with infertility issues, such as:

  • He only has to go into a room with a cup, while I get prodded and poked with needles and ultrasound wands.
  • She only has to deal with needles and procedures, but I have to live with the fact that I'm the infertile one.

In another version of this thinking, we may focus on the idea that someone else has it worse, and we've got it better. For instance:

  • I've been trying for four years, and they've been trying for two, but at least I have the support of my family. I know I'm lucky for that.
  • She already has one child, and I have none. I can't imagine how she spends so much time around kids, thinking she may never have another. She knows what she's missing.
  • They've only taken Clomid, and we've done IVF. I remember what it was like just starting out with treatments. Everything was so new and foreign. Now, I'm practically best friends with the ultrasound tech, and that familiarity has made things easier in some ways.
  • I can't imagine what it's like to be so close and then lose a pregnancy. That must be so heartbreaking.

This type of thinking can be played out in any number of ways, no matter what your situation is. After all, there is always someone who has it better or worse than you do. Sometimes, it can make you feel much worse about your lot in life. On the other hand, when you compare your situation favorably to other peoples' situations, it might actually help you feel a tiny bit better. However, it's at the expense of others and likely won't last.

It’s natural to do this kind of comparing inside, particularly when you're feeling especially distraught. It’s when people bring this dynamic into the open and say these thoughts out loud, by posting these types of judgments online, that fertility forums can shift from being havens of support to an upsetting experience.

Infertility Forum Fights

Many people who are infertile already struggle for support and acceptance in the real world. Those lists of “what not to say to someone with infertility” come from the very real fact that people coping with infertility often are confronted with hurtful comments, such as "Maybe, it's just not meant to be." Such thoughtless remarks (intentionally or not) are painful, but they are usually coming from people who likely don’t know any better.

But these remarks may feel even more hurtful when tossed around between those who are infertile. I’ve seen online conversations where a woman suffering from secondary infertility got bashed – yes, bashed – for daring to express their suffering. Because why should they complain, at least they have a child.

Examples

I’ve seen people get angry at others for posting about pregnancy success. If a fellow person with is coping with infertility gets a positive pregnancy test, I for one want to see it. I want to cheer and feel hopeful, both for them and myself. Unfortunately, some people's own disappointment or stress over their own infertility keeps them from reacting positively to the good fortunes of others.

I’ve seen people get into arguments over whether someone who has been trying to get pregnant for just a short while should be allowed to mingle in the same group as those who have been trying for years. It's as if they feel that being a person who struggles with infertility is some sort of exclusive club with very, very strict admittance guidelines.

Anger and Infertility

Anger is one of many possible reactions to infertility. Go ahead and be angry at the universe for the infertility issues you're experiencing. But aiming your anger at other people who are also struggling with infertility gets you nowhere. You don’t just hurt them and the infertility group, you're bound to hurt yourself, too. That toxic emotion sinks in deep and lashing out just intensifies your emotional pain. In fact, studies show that venting online often makes people feel much worse.

How to Use These Groups Constructively

If you've gotten burned when trying to find community on infertility forums, know this is not about you and it's not your fault. If a group you’re in feels toxic and drama seems to be brewing constantly, find another group. They are not all like this! There are many positive, more accepting forums and Facebook groups online. Research shows that online support groups can provide effective comfort for people facing distress and medical issues—you just need the right one.

Likewise, look for another group or another form of support if you find yourself getting drawn into (or instigating) unpleasant or unproductive conversations. The point of these groups is to find solace and support and if you're not getting that, it's probably not worth your time. The same goes if you end up feeling the urge to lash out at the other participants. Instead, try journaling your thoughts privately or talking to a friend.

Give yourself some slack and permission to be sad and angry. It can even be helpful to simply acknowledge that maybe you’re in so much pain that seeing anyone else’s story that seems to you to be somehow "less bad” makes your own pain boil over. That said, some things are better left unsaid. So, if you are questioning if you should post something, there's a good chance you shouldn't—or your message could use some softening.

Before You Post a Toxic Comment

  • Find the correct group centered around your situation.
  • Get appropriate help for your anger and pain.
  • Write it down on paper and wait overnight before deciding whether it is fit to post.

There are groups centered around particular diagnoses or time spent trying to conceive. There are groups only for those with primary infertility or only for secondary infertility. Consider finding one of these groups instead of trying to change or break apart a group that includes people you don’t feel comfortable around.

A Word From Verywell

If you're struggling with your pain, get help. Seek out a therapist or join a Resolve Support group. The anger and disappointment that often come along with infertility, won’t go away by getting consumed by fertility forum drama. Instead, find a forum that offers the support you need. Most importantly, give yourself grace and compassion as you focus on your own healing.

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2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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