Things Not to Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility
Infertility is an incredibly difficult topic to discuss. This is why people are silent when they know someone is struggling with infertility. It is easy to say the wrong thing and offend your friend or family member. So, do us all a favor and study this list of comments to avoid when speaking to your loved one struggling with infertility.
“Just Relax, It’ll Happen!”
Actively trying to get pregnant can be stressful. Tackling infertility means dealing with loads of stress about treatment and its outcomes, how to pay for treatment, insurance, medications, the stress on your relationship, and so much more. Infertility is a common condition yet an emotionally charged experience, and it should be treated as such.
While it has been noted that high levels of stress may be associated with a reduced chance of becoming pregnant, stress itself does not resolve the underlying conditions which lead to a diagnosis of infertility. Suggesting that to a couple struggling with infertility “stop stressing” dismisses their feelings about a very real diagnosis and their concerns about the road ahead. Simply reducing stress cannot cure tubal issues, endometriosis, low ovarian reserve, low sperm count, or any other leading causes of infertility.
“Are you sure you want kids? You can have mine!”
Am I sure? Asking this question this way is exactly what not to say to a couple after countless days and nights longing for and working toward building a family. One – if not both – of them (we’ll cover that later!) obviously want kids, and asking such a question can come off as really insensitive.
Oh, and the answer to whether I want your kids is a strong NO. I prefer to wait.
“Have you tried cutting out sugar?” Or any other random thing you read about.
Listen, brownies got me through some really tough days. However, yes, I did cut out sugar and guess what? The cycles where I did all the right things did not work! I’ve eaten pineapple, sipped Pom juice, wore fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm. The cycle that I did nothing ended up being the one that produced my baby girl.
Needless to say, your friend or family member has been scouring the internet for ways to get pregnant. They’ve purchased all of the things the infertility blogs and threads said to get. Please don’t ask what they’ve tried. You may be triggering them rather than being helpful.
“There are so many children that need homes. Just adopt!”
This statement takes away a couple’s right to choose how they want to build their own family and it comes from a place of privilege. How lucky are you that you don’t have to think about how you’ll build your family. Yes, adoption may be an option. But, how do you know that’s what they want to do? How do you know they are ready? And, how do you know they can afford it? Some families are receptive to the idea of opening up their homes and hearts to an adopted child, while others are not. And that is okay.
Most people do not adopt to replace the child you cannot have. They often adopt because they want to love and provide for a child who needs all that they have to give. This is coming from a woman who is currently trying to adopt a child and began the process before conceiving a biological child.
“You’re young! You have time!”
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A woman’s peak reproductive years are between the late teens and late 20s. By age 30, fertility (the ability to get pregnant) starts to decline. This decline becomes more rapid once you reach your mid-30s. By 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely for most women.”
Time is definitely not on our side, especially if someone is dealing with medical complications that causes them to be infertile.
“You can always do IVF!”
You would be surprised by how many people say this to couples going through infertility. Not only does infertility treatment take a toll on your mind and body, but it is also wildly EXPENSIVE!
According to Verywellfamily.com, the average cost of IVF is $12,000. There is an added cost for medication and additional IVF cycles. Deciding to begin treatment for infertility is not easy and lots of thought and resources go into making it.
“My friend did IVF and got pregnant on the first try!”
Thank you for trying to give hope, and I’m happy for your friend, but SO WHAT! Getting pregnant the first time is the exception, not the rule. It also feeds the horrible comparison bug that infertility brings.
“It could always be worse.”
Minimizing the effect of a person’s infertility journey can be extremely damaging to not only their mental health but also to your relationship with them. It was likely very hard for them to share about their infertility in the first place. How a couple feels about their infertility should never be negated. Acknowledge their feelings and ask them how you can help.
Taking time to learn about how you can support someone struggling with infertility can make a world of difference in your interactions with them. When you know better, you do better.