What Not to Say to Someone Struggling with Infertility & Why
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
June is World Infertility Awareness Month, a time to increase awareness regarding numerous infertility issues faced by couples & individuals across the globe.
Here’s a list of things not to say to someone struggling with infertility & why:
The Age Game:
You're still young, you've got plenty of time.
Aren't you a little too old?
You better start trying soon! The clock is ticking.
Age is not the only factor to consider when struggling with fertility. (In)fertility challenges can affect individuals of all ages. The misconception that young women can easily become pregnant can be harmful and discouraging for those trying to conceive. Holding off on having children until a more mature age is becoming more common for many reasons; financial stability, relationship security, changing life-focuses, and evolving social norms. Factors beyond age usually play a large part in the conception process, let's remember this when talking to individuals with fertility struggles.
Just relax and it will happen!
Offering words of encouragement like this can feel very minimizing, and cause even more guilt and frustration for those struggling to conceive. Do not minimize. Everyday stress is not proven to cause infertility, but infertility is proven to cause stress.
Maybe it's just not meant to be.
This is not something that anyone trying to conceive wants to hear. Although this thought may have crossed their mind a million times during their journey, the desire to have children can run much deeper than something as complicated as ‘fate’.
Have you tried…X, Y, Z?
What worked for you, your best friend, your cousin, your niece, your mother, does not guarantee the same course will work for every person. Allow certified professionals to offer advice and next-steps based on one's unique health and fertility concerns.
Are you sure you want kids? You can have mine!
Although comments like this are meant in harmless fun, they can really strike a cord. Making light of someone's journey to conceive, and coming off as ungrateful about the birth of your own children can feel very isolating. Those who are struggling with infertility are not oblivious to the hardships and struggles that come with having kids. We have all been around screaming babies, tantrum-having-toddlers, soiled diapers, and witnessed the sleepless nights many new parents have, but this does not mean certain individuals wouldn’t give anything to be in those parents' shoes.
Who’s fault is it? Bad eggs or swimmers?
Beyond this question being overly personal, it also causes one party to take on more guilt and blame in a situation. Infertility typically is caused by a variety of factors, in one or both parties trying to conceive. Finding out ‘who’s fault it is’ as a means of comforting a certain partner is far from helpful.
If you lose /gain some weight, it will help your chances.
Body weight & physical appearances are not an accurate indicator of ‘good health’. Although there is research to support that being under/overweight can affect one's ability to conceive, it’s only one small piece of the fertility puzzle. Remember that body weight is a sensitive topic for most of us, and pointing it out, as if it’s not something we are all overly aware of, can be hurtful and unconstructive.
You can always try IVF, or just adopt.
Although there are many options for those struggling with infertility, there are also many reasons further treatments and next steps are not feasible for every person. IVF is thought of as a magical ‘cure all’ for those struggling to conceive, unfortunately it’s not that simple. Whether it be financial) factors, emotional struggles, or religious reasons, there are numerous reasons why someone may not pursue IVF.
Remember that education is a powerful tool, and listening can often offer far more support and comfort than speaking. Please feel free to share your thoughts, struggles, and challenges with the topic of (in)fertility in the comments.