There is probably no experience in life with more “foot in mouth” opportunities that infertility. For some reason people think they are saying the right thing when many times they are just screwing that nail in a little bit more.
Infertility is a difficult condition to deal with, and no one knows that better than those who are living with it.
Unfortunately, there are also some things people say to those struggling to conceive that can be really hurtful and discouraging.
In this post we will look at the top 15 things you should not say to someone with infertility.
Whether you want to offer words of comfort to a friend or family member or you are going through fertility struggles yourself, this list is for you.
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What Not To Say To Someone With Infertility
First of all, if you are taking the time to read this article, then thank you. It shows that you mean well and you want to offer comfort to someone struggling to get pregnant.
Infertility forums online are full of women complaining about friends who are insensitive to infertility or unsupportive family members. That’s not you.
You want to avoid those faux-pas that make women struggling to get pregnant at best roll their eyes and at worst run to the bathroom crying.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
If I had a dime every time someone told me not worry and I will get pregnant, well, I would probably not be writing this article.
While it is true that there is a link between stress and fertility, we don’t need you to act like you are the person to think of it.
Know that even if you think that telling a woman that your second cousins aunt couldn’t get pregnant for 10 years but then she went on vacation is helpful. Trust me, it isn’t.
Anyone who has trouble getting pregnant has likely tried “relaxing” or not thinking about it.
“It’s all part of God’s plan”
Really? Do I even need to explain how hurtful it is to couples when people suggest that their infertility is a punishment from God.
Likewise “everything happens for a reason”.
Please keep your thoughts to yourself on this one and if you want to get religious, then try this Fertility Prayer For A Friend.
“Do you think it’s because you….?”
Again, enough with the blame. Almost all cases of infertility have nothing to do with what someone did or didn’t do in the past.
And how does that help the current situation anyway?
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
Couples are often asked this when they reveal that they are having trouble conceiving but quite frankly is it is no one’s business. First of all, adoption is not an easy process and there are lots of things to consider both emotionally and financially.
“Just adopt” really is not a good solution to taking on the responsibility of caring for a child for 18 + years.
Whose fault is it?
As soon as people find out that you are struggling with infertility, they always seem to want to assign blame.
It’s understandable that you are curious about your friend’s infertility issues but unless they offer up information themselves, don’t ask. Infertility is a medical condition and couples should be given privacy.
“All I have to do is look at a man and I’m pregnant”.
When I was starting my IVF cycle, my clinic offered a wellness evening with lots of alternative health experts who offered complimentary treatments.
I’ll never forget the one lady who introduced herself, to a room of infertility women by saying “My name’s Kate, and my friends always called me Fertile Myrtle because I get pregnant so easily”. Umm, thanks?
It’s not that we aren’t happy for you (and Fertile Myrtle), ut these kinds of stories and comments only serve to make us feel like failures or inadequate.
Let’s try and be a bit sensitive to the fact that for some women, getting pregnant is hard. No need to rub it in.
“Have you tried…….?”
Here’s another classic phrase that comes from a place of kindness but ends up being hurtful.
Most couples are willing to try anything to get pregnant and while your suggestion may be the one thing that chances their life, chances are, they already know about it and feel a bit jaded having to explain to people that yes, they tried that and it didn’t work.
The infertility community is packed with tips on the best fertility diet, the best vitamins to take and even which yoga positions can boost fertility – guide them to those things if you really want to help.
“Pregnancy sucks, you’re lucky”
It can be hard to be around pregnant women when you are going through infertility. It is even more difficult if we have to listen to you complain about how awful it is.
While we all know pregnancy isn’t always a bed of roses, save the complaints for other people and your infertility friend will be grateful.
“Do you want some of my husband’s sperm?”
This one may seem a bit extreme but you would be surprised at the rude “jokes” use infertile women have to listen to.
From cheap shots about infertility clinic mix-ups to joking offers to be a surrogate or donor – none of these are funny and they can be really upsetting to your friend.
“Kids aren’t the be-all and end-all”
Yes, we know that the sleepless nights and lack of free time can be draining but these kinds of comments minimize the feelings of people who desperately want kids.
Instead of telling them how much better being child-free is doesn’t help because they don’t want to sleep-in or go on kid free vacations. They want a baby.
“At least you already have one baby”
I know this can sound comforting but for couples going through secondary infertility, this really cuts like a knife.
Many people are much less sympathetic to people who already have a child but their pain is no less than someone struggling with primary infertility.
“I wouldn’t want to risk those fertility medications, they are not safe”
None of us want to take fertility meds and we would all rather get pregnant naturally but we are also thankful that science has given us an option when nature doesn’t work out.
Fear-mongering and scaring your friend is unhelpful and can cause a lot of anxiety. Trust that their doctor has explained the risks and that they don’t need your advice on this one.
“Please come to my baby shower, you have to!”
One of the hardest things to do when you are going through infertility is be around pregnant women.
It’s nice that you want your friend at your baby shower and she is more than likely thrilled for you but understand that it might be difficult for her to attend your baby events. Give her some grace and an out so she doesn’t feel guilty if she can’t make it.
“At least you know you can get pregnant”
Miscarriage is extremely common and while it is true that lots of women go on to have successful outcomes, that is not true for everyone.
Minimizing the pain of miscarriage with flippant comments is really cruel and insensitive.
And 5 things to say to your friend with infertility
Now we know what not to say to a someone with infertility, what should you say to comfort them and let them know you care?
First of all take their lead. Don’t bring it up unless they do and don’t pry for details unless they offer them.
Here are some good things to say that won’t cause hurt:
I’m here for you
Is there anything I can do?
Do you want to talk about it?
Do you want me to come to your appointment with you?
If you want to go the extra mile, you can always treat your friend with one of these Great Gift Ideas For A Friend Struggling With Infertility.
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