Managing an infertility diagnosis is stressful. It’s even more stressful when you have people in your life that don’t understand what you are going through or are not very supportive. Sadly, not all support is good support. The most well intentioned people can sometimes say unhelpful or hurtful things that deepen the pain of infertility. There’s a notable difference between intentions and impact. Just because the intentions are good doesn’t mean the impact is the same.
8 Things to Never Say When Someone is Going Through Infertility
1. “Just Relax”
For the vast majority of couples going through infertility, this advice is unwanted and unhelpful. Infertility is a medical diagnosis and just relaxing doesn’t solve the issues that’s causing difficulty with conception. It can also be received as minimizing a serious issue in someone’s life.
Going through infertility is a big deal and impacts several areas in a person’s life. Telling them to “just relax” implies that they are making a big deal about nothing. It communicates that they are somehow causing their infertility because they are too stressed. It casts blame and offers an oversimplified solution to a complex issue. Stress does not cause infertility and just relaxing does not cure infertility.
2. “Why don’t you just adopt?”
This may or may not be a desired path to growing a family for someone. It’s also a very involved process and a decision not to be taken lightly. For many people going through infertility, growing a family is really important but also how they grow their family matters. Adoption doesn’t take away the pain of not being able to have a biological child. Couples may not want to lose hope of having a genetic tie to their child. There’s a financial and emotional cost that must be considered.
3. “At least you know you can get pregnant”
Secondary infertility is just as common as primary infertility. Just knowing that you can get pregnant isn’t enough. Infertile couples want more than to just know they can conceive. They want to be able to conceive, have a safe and healthy pregnancy and raise their baby.
4. “You should try IVF”
Don’t assume this is an option that’s available to everyone. For some people, this may be cost prohibitive and for others it could be against their religious beliefs. IVF isn’t the answer for everyone.
5. “Everything happens for a reason”
This might be a belief that some people share but not everyone. The truth is that some things just happen and there’s no explanation for it. In one third of infertile couples, the infertility is unexplained. Sometimes there are no explanations and there are no answers.
6. “Enjoy the freedom now because life changes drastically when you have kids”
Intended parents know what they are signing up for. They are aware that life changes once they become parents. They are not oblivious to what it means to be a parent. It’s the life they desperately want and are trying to make happen. Statements like this send a message that the child-free life an infertile couple is living is better and they should enjoy it.
7. “You’re still young”
Infertility does not discriminate and that includes age. Just because someone is young, that does not make the pain of infertility any less. Being young doesn’t make you immune to infertility and being young doesn’t guarantee the desired outcome of having a baby.
8. “Don’t worry, it will happen”
No one can guarantee what will happen in the future. While you may intend to encourage and instill hope, the truth is for some people having a child may be a dream unrealized and something that they will need to come to terms with.
If you want to be a supportive loved one where your intentions and impact align, you can say these helpful things to someone going through infertility.
I’m so sorry this is happening to you.
You deserve to have everything you want and I really hope it works out for you.
I’ll be thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way.
How can I support you?
What would support look like for you right now?
I’m here if you want to talk
Just be a supportive presence. Sometimes silence is golden and just saying I don’t have the words to say right now but know that I am here for you is enough.