As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches hearts are aflutter and love is in the air. However, roses and chocolates are the last thing on some people’s minds. According to RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, 1 in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) struggle with infertility–which means you probably know someone dealing with this heartbreaking disease. If it’s not something you’ve experienced yourself, it’s hard to know how to help loved ones cope with the ups and downs infertility brings.

Cary L. Dicken, MD of Sher Fertility Institute New York in Manhattan shares tips on how you can support your infertile friend and help her get through this challenging time in her life. A great way to start? Transform Valentine’s Day into Galentine’s Day and shower your friend with some tender loving care. In fact, make it a month-long affair with #28DaysofTLC.

Listen & Learn
I can’t emphasize this enough. When a friend is going through a difficult time, our first instinct is to jump in with advice, anecdotes, and success stories. Your infertile friend has most likely been dealing with this in private for some time, and has already learned about every tip, trick, and tale you have to offer from Ms. Google. She may just want to vent, cry, or complain about her latest battery of tests. Your job is to show up with tissues and ice cream in hand, and your listening ears on.

Also, make it a point to learn about infertility and what your friend is going through. She may never ask for your advice, but raising your infertility awareness will help you better understand what she’s experiencing. Call Sher Fertility Institute New York at (646) 792-7476 for a list of educational infertility resources.

But, what can I DO?
As your friend talks, think about how you can walk beside her through this challenging season. Does she dread tough appointments? Offer to go with her. Hate waiting for test results? Treat her to a movie or coffee date after her next round of tests. Avoid exercise like the plague? A healthy weight can help with some infertility issues; offer to be a workout buddy.

Couples struggling with secondary infertility may have trouble finding childcare amidst the flurry of appointments. Let them know they can count on you to watch their kiddo(s), so they can focus on what they need to do to grow their family.

Encourage Her to Opt Out
Baby showers, gender reveals, kids’ birthday parties…they can all be excruciating reminders of what your infertile friend doesn’t yet have. While it’s hard to miss exciting events for loved ones, your friend shouldn’t make her infertility journey any harder than it already is. Remind her that there will be plenty of well-wishers in attendance, and reassure her that her friends and relatives will understand her absence.

Steering clear of social media is another way to cut down on your friend’s exposure to cute announcements and adorable baby photos. Encourage her to take a social media hiatus. Not only will she save herself some heartache, she’ll get back hours in her day!

 The value in true friendship goes far beyond candy hearts and flowers. Simply being there for your infertile friend can help ease her burden as she travels the path to parenthood. If you have any questions about how you can be a source of support, reach out to Cary L. Dicken, MD of Sher Fertility Institute New York at (646) 792-7476