We asked our readers to share some of their perspectives. What shouldn’t you say to someone going through infertility? What should you say instead?

 

We get it. 

Everybody loves to give advice—especially when it comes to trying to get pregnant. And when you’ve first got babies on the brain, you might even welcome a few tips of unsolicited advice from your best friend, your mother, and maybe even that nosy neighbor from down the street. 

But fast forward a year and about a million negative pregnancy tests later, all that unsolicited “advice” isn’t so cute or helpful—even if it’s meant well. You’re frustrated, disappointed, feeling isolated, and not pregnant.

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While it’s not a topic we often talk about, infertility is a very real and emotionally exhausting experience. And believe it or not, one out of every eight couples experiences infertility. But let’s be honest, sometimes navigating the trying to conceive (TTC) conversation can be difficult for someone who hasn’t shared the same experience as you. 

So we asked our readers to share some of their perspectives. What shouldn’t you say to someone going through infertility? What should you say instead?

Don’t say:

  • “When are you having a baby?” This can be such an innocent question, but this one hurts. If only you knew. 
  • “Did you try “X, Y, and Z?” Yep, tried that and everything else in the book. Low-key, feel like an expert in what-isn’t-working. 
  • “Just relax and it will happen.” Sitting back and relaxing isn’t going to get this girl pregnant. 
  • “Just have more sex.” Geez, if you have any MORE sex, you could probably re-write the kama sutra. That’s not the problem here. 
  • “Just get a dog.” Okay, sure, dogs are great— but kids are a hell of a lot better. 
  • “Just adopt!” Adoption is a beautiful thing. And adoption also isn’t necessarily for everyone, and that’s okay. 
  • “Your recent miscarriage makes me scared I’ll have one too.” Uh, so...should I not talk about what I’m going through?
  • “Stop focusing and tracking it so much, and then it will just happen.” Tracking fertile windows and ovulation increases your chances, thank you very much.  

So how do we change the dialogue around talking about infertility and showing support and care without feeling patronizing or exhausting? This is what our readers said.

Instead, do this:

  • Let your friend lead the convo. Be there to listen. Don’t act like The Baby Whisperer.
  • Say: “I’m sorry. It’s not fair. What can I do to help?”
  • Say: “I’m sorry. I love you. I’m here to listen and help when you need me.”
  • Simply ask how they are doing. Letting them know the door is open to talk.
  • Say: “It is common and you are not alone; let’s talk about the struggles so it’s a normal conversation.”
  • Check-in often.
  • Say: “Sorry you’re dealing with this.”

Everyones’ experiences and what they are or aren’t okay with are different. But here’s the big takeaway: you don’t have to avoid the topic. The best thing another person can do for someone dealing with infertility is to simply be there. Be a supportive ear rather than a mouth of empty hope and suggestions. The experience of infertility isn’t easy to talk about for anyone, but simply knowing a judgement-free door is ready to offer comfort can mean a world of difference in helping them feel less alone.

 

Photo by Saad Chaudhry.