If you’ve recently passed the wave of engagements and weddings among friends, you may soon notice the chatter quickly turns to another topic: babies. Pretty soon, it can feel like everyone you know is starting a family—or trying to. And with that, chances are you have at least one friend experiencing infertility, even if they’re keeping it to themselves.According to the National Institutes of Health, about 9% of men and 11% of women of reproductive age in the U.S. have experienced fertility problems. And if a friend discloses that they’re going through this, either alone or with a partner, your instinct is probably to reach out and offer your support, right? But figuring out the right thing to say or do isn’t exactly easy, especially if you’ve never been in their shoes.Infertility comes with its own special kind of visceral pain and grief, which is why it’s so important for people to have a support network throughout their journey. At the same time, the difficulty of the situation is also what makes having the right words so challenging. “It’s such a sensitive topic because it’s really an unexpected pain,” Allison Ramsey, MS, LMHC, a psychotherapist specializing in fertility, grief, and perinatal loss, and owner of nature-focused support group Bloom Where You Are Planted, tells SELF. “We’ve all been taught that getting pregnant is so easy, so when it doesn’t work, it just destroys every core of our sense of being.”And that can be especially difficult when someone’s friends and family all seem to be getting pregnant. “Everybody around you is successfully doing this thing that you can’t make happen, and it feels like a knife wound, like getting stabbed. It’s pretty visceral,” Lucille Keenan, PsyD, a psychologist and fertility counselor in North Carolina, tells SELF. “Oftentimes, people have been able to achieve so many things in life by pushing through, by doing more, but then there’s this thing you can’t make happen.”Just being with that person, through the good news and bad news, can be very helpful as they navigate this, Dr. Keenan says. Here, experts share the best things to do and say (and what not to say) to best support a friend who is experiencing infertility.1. Let them know you’re there to listen.“The best thing to say is ‘I’m here if you want to talk,’ and then just be there to listen to them,” Kim Crone, PhD, a psychologist at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services in Connecticut, tells SELF. “This gives them space during this very distressing experience to talk about it without judgment and without opinions.” If you’re not sure what to really say, you can start with something like: “What’s this been like for you? This must be really hard.” This leaves things open ended so that they can talk and share in the way they want to, Dr. Crone says.Keenan says that texts are a great way to let someone know you’re thinking of them and are wondering how they are doing, because it opens the door for conversation in a low-pressure way. Adding something along the lines of “No need to reply if you are not up for it,” can help make it clear that they are in control. Just letting them know you’re there to support them and talk if they ever want to can go a long way, she says.2. Encourage them to set boundaries.If you want to keep checking in regularly but are unsure if they’d like that, just ask, Ramsey says. Something like, “Do you feel like telling me where you are in the process? If not, that’s totally OK and I will stop asking.” This can help you strike the right balance between managing your own desire to be there for them and their tolerance for discussing this difficult journey, Keenan says. It can also help them identify what they’re feeling and what they need from their support network, since they may be grappling with that as well.
A year and a half after losing her son Jack at 20 weeks due to pregnancy complications, Chrissy Teigen has announced she is in the middle of another in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. In a candid Instagram post on Sunday, the model and cookbook author shared a picture of herself stretching with the caption: “I wanted to let you guys know I’m balls deep in another IVF cycle to save as many eggos as I possibly can and hopefully make some strong, healthy embryos. I honestly don’t mind the shots…they make me feel like a doctor/chemist…but the bloating is a bitch.” Aside from announcing that she was undergoing IVF, Teigen made a plea to those reading: “I humbly beg you to stop asking if I’m pregnant because while I know it’s said with excited, good intentions, it just kind of sucks to hear because I am the opposite of pregnant! But also like please stop asking people, anyone, if they’re pregnant,” she wrote in the caption. “I said this in the comments and got yelled at because the internet is wild but I’d rather be the one to tell you and not some poor woman who will look you in the eyes through tears and that’s how you finally learn.”Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Teigen has been open about her fertility struggles, often using her social media to document her experiences with other rounds of IVF treatment and her grief after Jack’s death. The 36-year-old is mom to daughter Luna, 5, and son Miles, 3, with her husband, John Legend, 43. Both children were conceived through IVF. In September 2020, the couple sadly lost Jack at 20 weeks due to a pregnancy complication. “I didn’t get to take care of you but you came and went to get me to love myself and take care of myself because our bodies are precious and life is a miracle. they told me it would get easier but yeah, that hasn’t started yet. mom and dad love you forever,” Teigen captioned heartbreaking photos of herself and her husband in the hospital shortly after Jack’s death. Anywhere from 10 to 15% of couples in the U.S. are experiencing infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. The technical definition of infertility is not being able to get pregnant after at least a year of unprotected sex, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains, although depending on a person’s age, it can be recommended to see a doctor before reaching that point. (For instance, the general guideline is to see a doctor if you’re a person with a vagina who’s 35 or older and hasn’t gotten pregnant after six months of unprotected sex.)
So, what can you do to outsmart chlamydia? Get tested regularly for STIs—chlamydia testing can easily be done with a urine sample now. What that looks like in practice depends on your specific circumstances. For people with vaginas, the CDC recommends yearly testing if you are under 25 and are sexually active, 25 and older and having sex with multiple partners or a new partner, and if you are pregnant.2What are the signs of chlamydia?According to Hilary Reno, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, chlamydia symptoms usually start a week after you contract the infection, but really there is no set timeline. Adding to the confusion, when you do get chlamydia symptoms, they can often be mild or reminiscent of other common ailments like a urinary tract infection or a yeast infection, or even another sneaky STI, gonorrhea.You know your body best, so if you feel like something isn’t quite right, it’s best to see a doctor. “If something has changed, and you know what your sexual activity has been, and you are having symptoms, that is an alert that you better get checked,” James Grifo, M.D, Ph.D., program director at NYU Langone Fertility Center and chief executive physician at Inception Fertility, tells SELF. In the meantime, here are some prominent chlamydia symptoms to be on the lookout for:1. Abnormal vaginal dischargeIf you are experiencing vaginal discharge, that isn’t an immediate cause for concern. Some vaginal discharge is normal as it’s the body’s way of cleansing the vagina and keeping it healthy. Changes in your discharge can also be normal, says Dr. Grifo, like during certain times of the menstrual cycle. For example, typically vaginal discharge is clear or milky but “mid-cycle you often have a runny more mucusy kind of discharge.” That’s why he says it is important to really know your body.Now, changes outside of what is normal for your body—vaginal discharge color, smell, and feel—could signal a larger issue. And there are a lot of things that can account for this outside of chlamydia, according to the Cleveland Clinic, including a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. If your discharge is smelly or white, yellow, or gray in color, though, that may be chlamydia.2. A burning sensation when you pee—and an urgency to goNobody likes to feel burning when they pee, but if a chlamydia infection is in the urethra—the tube that moves urine out of your body—it can cause just that or actual pain when you pee, as well as cloudy urine. You may also feel like you need to go to the bathroom often and urgently. Unfortunately, these are also classic UTI symptoms and can easily be confused for one.3. Rectal pain, discharge, or bleedingChlamydia can infect the rectum—the last portion of your large intestine before the anus— either directly through anal sex, or possibly via spread from the cervix and vagina, Dr. Soper says. Chlamydia in the rectum can cause pain, discharge, and bleeding. These are also common symptoms of proctitis, which is seen in folks who have an inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Regardless, these uncomfortable symptoms are not normal, and you should get checked out ASAP to figure out what’s going on.4. Lower abdominal painObviously, abdominal pain can be caused by a number of things, not just STIs. But when chlamydia is involved, it typically only occurs if the infection has been left untreated for a while, leading to PID, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Other symptoms you might experience at this stage are nausea, fever, and pain during sex, but we’ll get to that next.5. Painful sex and bleeding afterwardIf having sex has gone from pleasurable to downright agonizing, it’s not something you should ignore. Chlamydia can cause cervicitis, or inflammation of the cervix, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, making it extra sensitive during penetrative sex. Bleeding after sex is also a possibility. If the infection spreads and causes PID, that can also make sex feel painful.6. Pain in the testiclesFor people with penises, the majority of whom are asymptomatic with chlamydia, testicular pain can be an indication of a severe case of the STI, Dr. Grifo says. Swelling and tenderness may crop up, too. Another thing to watch out for is epididymitis, which happens when the epididymis, the coiled tube that brings sperm to the outside world, becomes inflamed—in this case due to a chlamydia infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.