What to Say to Your Loved One
When a loved one is diagnosed with POF, it can be challenging to know what to say, especially because POF can affect a woman differently depending on her age and lifestyle. The most important thing is to provide love, support, and a non-judgemental ear for listening. It is often more helpful to listen and validate her feelings rather than try to immediately provide a solution, especially because a solution might not be available. It is important to allow her to mourn her loss.
Some do's and don't's:
1. Don't try to minimize the situation. It may be tempting to try to make her feel better by saying how she "will never have to deal with the pains of childbirth," or that "kids are overrated anyway," or "at least you don't have cancer or something worse." Infertility can be a devastating diagnosis, and it can be a painful journey to watch as friends and family conceive and start families with seemingly relative ease. It may have been her lifelong dream to be a biological mother, and this dream may have been taken away from her without her choice. Even if POF affects a woman who is unsure whether or not she would have wanted children, it is still devastating to have that choice taken away; and it is inappropriate to make remarks such as, "I thought you didn't want kids anyway!"
2. Don't tell her to relax and take a vacation so that her period will come back. POF is NOT caused by stress; there are a variety of underlying health conditions that cause POF; many of which she might not feel comfortable telling to people (such as chromosomal abnormalities). There is no way that taking a vacation will "cure" POF, and saying so is invalidating.
3. Don't push adoption right away. Saying, "think of the cute little adopted child you will have someday!" may be appropriate later down the road, but initially it feels invalidating and innappropriate to hear. Even saying something like, "well, you always were open to adopting anyway-- now the choice is easier AND you don't have to deal with a monthly period anymore" can be incredibly invalidating.
4. Do let her know that you care and that you are there for her. Sometimes all it takes is hearing those two things. Your loved one probably feels sad and alone, and it is important to express that you are there if she ever needs a shoulder to cry on. A diagnosis of fertility feels like a huge loss, so be supportive in the same way that you would if she had lost a loved one.
5. Do support her decisions, whether they be starting IVF, stopping IVF, adoption, or deciding not to be a mother.
6. Do remember her on Mother's Day and on other family-oriented holidays. It is during these times when a loss such as POF can be particularly devastating, especially because it feels like everyone around her has a family except for her.
7. Do send her little comforting notes or texts, such as "Just thinking of you," or "I love you." It may feel cheesy, but it truly makes a difference.