The Mighty Logo

5 Things Not to Say to Someone Struggling With Infertility (and What to Do Instead)

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

One in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, and over 11 percent of women have received infertility services during their lifetimes. This means there is a good chance that you, someone you love, or simply someone you know, will struggle with this complicated and emotional journey.

While most of us aren’t intentionally insensitive, it’s easy to make ignorant comments when discussing pregnancy or infertility. Learning these common blunders is important for better understanding how you can support those who may be struggling.

1. Relax. It’ll happen when it happens!

Most people say this with genuinely good intentions. They want to cheer their friend up and provide a sense of strength and comfort. Even if it seems innocent, it can be devastating and infuriating for infertile couples to hear. Imagine telling someone their cancer recovery will happen when it happens or their depression will disappear if they just relax. You’re essentially assuming the illness will disappear if the individual just “calms down” enough. That’s not only ignorant — it’s incredibly invalidating.

2. Just adopt!

Adoption is a beautiful and exciting decision for some parents, but it’s not always possible or feasible. Furthermore, it doesn’t just erase the pain of not having a biological child. Even though it’s a dynamic way to raise a child into the world, some people cannot or will not be able to go through adoption. By throwing out this phrase, you’re invalidating the desire a couple has to have their own biological children

3. What about IVF or surrogacy?

Again, both of these options can be incredibly miraculous for some couples. IVF boasts impressive success rates, and surrogacy can allow infertile parents to have a child genetically related to one or both of them. With that said, IVF and surrogacy can represent tedious processes that often require significant upfront costs and intensive medical care.  Chances are if someone you love is struggling with infertility, he or she has already explored the alternative options available to them.  Countless times. Rather than point-blank make suggestions for what’s best, it’s compassionate for you to simply let them tell you their next step.

4. It’s because of….

Insert a know-it-all answer, like your age, your past, your lifestyle, your weight. Whatever it is, you don’t have the right to tell someone why he or she is struggling with infertility issues. For one, it’s assuming. For two, it’s disrespectful and outside of your bounds as a supportive friend. Unless you’re an expert on the causes of your particular friend’s infertility, be mindful of your opinions and practice offering support and compassion instead.

5. Kids are too much work, anyway!

Sure, kids may be a “ton of work,” but a couple struggling with conceiving desperately wants that kind of work. It’s a gut-wrenching feeling to want to have your own child without being able to do so. Even if you have your own children, it’s best for you to avoid any comments about your experiences as a parent if your friend is struggling or grieving.

Final Thoughts

Many people silently struggle with infertility. It’s an invisible epidemic, one that can affect couples of all ages, sizes and demographics. If you know someone struggling, be there for the tissues and venting — not for your alleged words of wisdom or advice.

Getty image by TataGD

Originally published: May 21, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home