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7 things you shouldn’t say to someone with fertility issues

Woman with her hand across her mouthIt can be one of the hardest times in a person’s life – especially if all they’ve ever wanted is to have a family.

Finding out you or your partner has fertility issues can crush dreams, can test relationships, and can change your life for the worse.

Of course, there are ways around a lot of fertility issues, but sometimes there’s just no chance that they can fall pregnant. Whether or not their dreams are completely dashed, there are some things that you just shouldn’t say to someone with fertility issues – here are just a few of them.

1. Platitudes

These are your worst enemy. Saying things like “just relax and it’ll happen” or “you’re so young, there’s still heaps of time” is more likely to enrage a woman, or couple, who have fertility issues than it is likely to make them feel better. In fact, don’t try to make them feel better at all, because the only thing capable of actually doing that is their own baby. The best you can hope to make them feel is supported and loved.

2. “I understand…”

Do you really? Unless you also have fertility issues, and especially ones of the same kind, then no, you don’t. It’s the “go to” response when comforting someone, but it is infuriating when someone says it without having any idea of how that situation actually feels. The fact of the matter is that no person in the world has felt exactly the same way as anyone else, so claiming that you “understand” is never going to be a good course to take. Instead, just offer a supportive ear for them to vent or share, and ask how they’re doing every so often.

3. “My partner only has to LOOK at me for me to fall pregnant!”

You may mean well, it may be intended as a light-hearted jest, and you may even think that they’ll find it funny. They won’t. To someone with fertility issues, hearing these words is nothing but insensitive bragging. Avoid this at all times.

4. Nothing

One of the worst responses to someone telling you about their fertility issues is silence. It makes them feel like they shouldn’t be talking about it, or that it’s somehow taboo – it’s not – it’s brave that they’ve confided in you. It’s almost as bad if you smile or nod in acknowledgement, then immediately change the subject – it’s still disregarding the fact that someone just trusted you with that information, and could hurt their feelings. What you should do is be kind, ask if they want to talk about it, and let them know you’re there to listen/offer support if need be.

5. “My kids are annoying, have one!” or “Pregnancy sucks, I’ve been so sick!”

You’ve got kids; you have what they want. Don’t complain about the fact that your kids are annoying, or don’t listen to you, or they’re naughty – that’s how kids are sometimes, and whinging to your friends with fertility issues just comes across as ungrateful and insensitive. Also, they don’t want your kids, they want their own kids. Don’t offer for them to “take one off your hands”, it’s not even slightly the same thing as having your own. The same goes for pregnancy – remember to be thankful that you’re pregnant at all.

 

And specifically about IVF:

6. “You know IVF is expensive and invasive, right?”

“Oh, IVF is hard? Sorry, maybe I’ll just get over wanting kids with time.” For the record, no one will reply to your question like this. When someone has chosen to go down the IVF path, it’s safe to say that they know what they’re in for, and they would rather have some stress, pain, and monetary hardship now and have kids later (or sooner, as one would hope), than be comfortable now and never get to hold their own baby. So ultimately, yes, they know that, so there’s not much point saying it in the first place.

7. “Oh wow, IVF, how exciting!”

No. There is no other word but no. “Exciting” is not a word used to describe IVF, except for when you do fall pregnant as a result of IVF. The fact that this couple had to resort to IVF in order to have a baby is devastating for them. No one wants to do IVF, the circumstances surrounding their fertility and their evaluation of the options in fertility treatment have led them down this path; they’d much rather have a baby without assistance if it were possible.

 

And if you’re wondering what you SHOULD say then read 9 ways to support your friend with fertility issues.

Image credit: iko/ 123RF Stock Photo

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Visit our fertility and conception information hub for more tips, advice and support

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3 comments so far -

  1. Hearing things like “maybe you’re just not meant to have kids” use to break my heart and having people tell us we should just adopt or foster was so frustrating. The truth is, we looked into both of those options and they were far from easy or straightforward and whilst our intentions would have been to love that child as our own… they would never be our own. We would always be left wondering things like, “what would our child look like?” “Who would they most be like?” Infertility is a never ending grief process.

    • Hi Shell, thanks for sharing your experience with us. Those comments can be so thoughtless. Hopefully with some more education people can be more mindful of the things they say and the impact they have. All the best xx

  2. I’m sick of the ‘ it’ll happen. Stop stressing’ Really? Yeah, hang on while I just instantly stop stressing about the one thing that I feel will make my life complete while you carry on about how annoying your own kids are. Jeeez!!

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