Dealing with Social Media in IVF

In a life where we are forever connected via social media and have more knowledge than ever about people’s (often curated) personal lives, it is hard to avoid stories about pregnancies, babies and advice about fertility and fertility treatment. Social media provides many positive aspects such as social connectedness, enabling connection with people that in the past may have been hard to stay in touch with. It allows overseas and interstate sharing and keeping up to date with our favourite stars and influencers. It is not all bad. ‘Persons affected by infertility experience feelings of fragmentation and alienation, and social media offers them opportunities to process their infertile situation, to receive information and support, which has been shown also in previous studies” [1011].( Sormunen, T., Karlgren, K., Aanesen, A. et al. The role of social media for persons affected by infertility. BMC Women’s Health 20, 112 (2020).

However, social media can have its dark side for people trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatment, leaving couples people more isolated and confused.

So how should you engage with social media?

Have a think about what it is like for you to scroll through your social media platforms;

  • Is it uplifting or stressful?
  • Does it help you to feel empowered or depowered?
  • Do you sit with uncomfortable feelings such as envy and does it impact your self-esteem?
  • Are there forms of social media that provide better support to you e.g. forums?
  • It is likely to be a mix of feelings you are left with after your scroll, but it is important to pay attention to any negative impacts and how this may be affecting your general wellbeing.

Consider if you need a general social media break. This can be a useful way of switching off the ongoing barrage of information and curated stores you receive. Set a timeline and ensure you are still maintaining connection with good friends and family during this time. Could it be helpful to set a time limit on social media each day, e.g. 20 mins?

Another option is to remove it from your phone, the easiest place to get caught up in regular intervals of what people are posting. Leaving it on a desktop computer instead will allow more control over when and how you access social media. You may wish to change your settings so that for example, you are not getting people’s stories for a while. This might be helpful if you have a friend who is a prolific poster with their happy pregnancy/baby/family stories. It means you can continue a social media connection without having to face their constant posts, but you can also hop in and out of their page when you feel like it.

Carefully consider your own posts.

Whilst it is tempting to post stories when you are experiencing strong emotions such as sadness and disappointment, or happiness with good news, pause and consider how you might feel about this post tomorrow, next week or in a few months. Do you really want others to know this level of detail about you and your partner? If it feels important to share, is there a social media group that might be better to share with?

Remember the algorithms are set so that you will likely receive advertising related to what is happening in your life. This may direct fertility, baby, pregnancy, and related advertising your way. You could consider doing any searches incognito which will make it harder for targeted advertising.

Advice is common amongst influencers about all sorts of fertility and pregnancy-related matters. Take this advice with a grain of salt. They are not fertility experts and whilst they may at times share some useful information, it may not be evidence-based or relevant to your direct situation.

Remember the best advice is from qualified health professionals.

Turn the volume down on other advice by either ignoring it or holding the information lightly and checking with your health professionals before acting on the advice you receive from social media.

Social media can be a great way to communicate, share and reduce isolation when going through fertility treatment, but make sure you are in control of the information and how you are using it.