6 Inappropriate Infertility Comments To AVOID

More Stories like:

Recent statistics indicate that 1 in 6 people will experience infertility. Roughly 17% of folks who try to conceive will struggle to do so, which is a significant portion of the population.

I happen to be 1 in 6. I also happen to be 1 in 4, with our only pregnancy ending in a miscarriage.

You see, my husband and I have been trying for quite a few years now, and I have heard just about everything that someone in the thick of infertility could hear from those who have never experienced it.

Bride and groom dancing beside mountain and lake
Courtesy of Danika Forbes

I say “just about” because every so often, one new piece of absurd advice or a new, unhelpful comment catches me by surprise! But by and large, people respond to hearing about my fertility struggles with predictable advice, platitudes, or poorly placed jokes.

I feel like I’ve developed a thick(er) skin throughout the last few years so that people’s behavior towards my infertility doesn’t affect me as deeply as it used to. That being said, I remember how it felt being at the start of our journey and not getting pregnant right away like everyone around us.

The things people said, while primarily unintentional, were like a punch to the gut.

It surprised me with infertility being as common as it is that so many people simply lose rational thought and judgement when you tell them why you don’t have kids yet. After all, THEY asked.

People feel fully comfortable asking an invasive question or joking around, but when you give them a real answer they suddenly act offended and uncomfortable, as if you are the one who brought this unwelcome elephant into the room by responding to their question (and now it’s also your job to remove it).

I try my best to be as open, transparent, and public about our infertility journey as I possibly can. This is to de-stigmatize infertility and also to educate on what is and isn’t appropriate when connecting with someone who is in the thick of their infertility journey.

Patient wearing black mask inside hospital bathroom
Courtesy of Danika Forbes

My hope is that the next human in my circle who tries to get pregnant and unfortunately realizes it won’t happen for them as quickly as it seems to happen for everyone else will have a better support network and less invasive/inappropriate comments directed their way.

After all, it’s all of our first time being alive and navigating life. So, if you’re speaking to someone and they share that they are going through infertility, I truly hope the list below can help you navigate and better support them.

6 Things To Never Say To Someone Battling Infertility

1. When are you having kids?

Before asking someone “When are you having kids?” recognize the fact that they may be doing everything within their means to, and still falling short. Every month that passes is frustrating and devastating. This question can feel crushing, especially after a failed treatment cycle or miscarriage.

2. You just need to do [x].

Before saying “You just need to relax/try this supplement/get drunk/go on vacation/try acupuncture/etc” understand that if it was truly that simple, they would be pregnant already. Infertility is a diagnosed disease; just like you wouldn’t tell someone that their T1 diabetes would be cured by “not thinking about it” or “taking a trip,” please use that same consideration before offering unsolicited fertility advice.

People desperately trying to conceive have done their research (and then some!) and I assure you wholeheartedly they have tried anything you could possibly recommend to them. By offering random advice, it dismisses and diminishes the fact that infertility is a disease and is in fact outside the control of the person living it.

Ready to live life more meaningfully? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Negative Clearblue pregnancy test on counter
Courtesy of Danika Forbes

3. My friend did [x] and they got pregnant, so you should too.

Before saying “My friend struggled and they did XYZ and they got pregnant, so you should too” understand that infertility is caused by a variety of factors. Male factor, female factor, a combination, or unexplained infertility can contribute to struggles to conceive, and with so many reasons within those categories.

Every situation is unique and what worked for one person isn’t guaranteed to work for someone else.

4. Why don’t you just adopt?

Before saying “Why don’t you just adopt?” recognize that the adoption process costs an exorbitant amount, wait times are unknown, the process is intensive, and you may never be matched to a child. It’s not a simple, inexpensive, or guaranteed process.

It also is not without trauma or ethical concerns, depending on the situation. People who are in the thick of infertility are aware that adoption exists, and have their own reasons for why they are not currently pursuing it.

5. It’ll happen when you least expect it.

Before saying “Your time will come” or “It’ll happen when you least expect it!” please recognize that not everyone ends their infertility journey with a baby. Whether it’s financial, emotional, physical, mental exhaustion, or they have unsuccessfully attempted all viable options, everyone’s ‘time’ does not come.

Some people find comfort in clinging to the hope and determination in their journey ending with their baby, while others find the positivity toxic and need to sit with the reality that child-free life may be their possible outcome. Considering—and asking—what someone needs to hear to feel support is important.

While we’re on the subject of support, checking in on someone who has shared they are going through infertility or doing fertility treatments means so much. It can be as simple as a text to let them know you’re thinking about them, or when you are alone together, letting them know that if they need to chat or vent about how things are going without judgement, you’ll be a listening ear. Something small that lets them know you are in their corner means a great deal.

Husband and wife holding up IUI announcement sign
Courtesy of Danika Forbes

6. I can’t relate.

Before saying “Wow I can’t relate, my husband just LOOKS at me and I get pregnant” or “My kids are so annoying, you can just have mine!” put yourself in the shoes of someone who is doing everything in their power to conceive and is falling short. Joking to someone who is in the thick of infertility that they can “have” your kids when they are being challenging isn’t appropriate.

It’s also not appreciated to hear how simple it was for you to get pregnant, or how fertile you are. There are 5 in 6 people you can talk about how quickly you get pregnant to, please don’t bring it up with the 1 in 6 friend who is struggling.

There’s no one size fits all approach to anything when it comes to infertility. Some people want to share their journey while some would rather keep it private. Being mindful of questions that may be triggering or invasive, regardless of whether you know of someone’s fertility situation, is a great place to start.

Asking what someone needs to be supported or simply letting them know you are there for them is tremendously appreciated if you’re aware of their fertility struggles. If nothing else, please be mindful that getting pregnant—and staying pregnant—isn’t easy for everyone.

Bride and groom smiling with two dogs beside lake
Courtesy of Danika Forbes

Have a story of love, kindness, or healing to share? Visit our submissions portal to submit today.

Read more stories like this:

6 Gift Ideas For A Friend Struggling With Infertility

Infertility Warrior Surprised With Miracle Twins After Miscarriage, Ectopic Pregnancy

Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on social media with family and friends.

 Share  Tweet