10 Things NOT to Say to Your Fertility-Challenged Friend

We hear some pretty wacky advice and insensitive statements from our fertile friends, don’t we? Here I’ve outlined the 10 most frustrating sentiments I’ve heard from my non-fertility-challenged.

As I started writing this post I realized how there are WAY more than 10 things you shouldn’t say to us fertility-challenged. These are just the most common ones I hear personally. Actual results may vary.

  1. “Have you tried…” Yes. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried it. Lying upside down? Tried it. Taking my temperature? Tried it. Acupuncture? Tried it. Juice cleanse? Tried to try it. There’s nothing you can tell me that I haven’t researched, heard of, considered or tried first-hand. But that’s cute that you think you have the top secret password that will grant me access to this elusive club. (This is slightly less annoying if the person offering you the advice is also TTC or struggled to conceive and is now on the other side…or ya know…is a medical professional).
  2. “Just adopt!” Adoption? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that. Oh, wait. Yeah I have! I’ll just head down to the adoption store and pick out one of the kids in the window, since I’ve heard adoption is super easy and basically the same as having your own biological children, anyway. Sarcasm aside, adoption is a really awesome alternative for a lot of fertility-challenged couples. But it’s not for everyone and it’s not a consolation prize, so it shouldn’t be suggested as such.
  3. “It’ll happen when you stop worrying and just relax.” This is such an infuriating comment, especially for myself and my other anxious, control freak friends out there. It’s basically the same as asking me not to breathe. Even though science proves that stress is terrible for fertility…this is still not a productive thing to say. It just isn’t.
  4. “Just enjoy this time without kids! Once you’re a parent, you can never go back…” This statement…I get it…I get where it’s coming from…it’s well-intentioned…but it’s also assuming that you will eventually conceive. Which hey, maybe you will. But for a lot of us, this assumption is super painful/scary. Believe me, we want the disruption. The mess. The loudness. The lack of sleep and the inconvenience. We crave the chaos…so telling us to enjoy the lack of it is pretty tone-deaf.
  5. “Whatever’s meant to happen will happen” or “this is all part of God’s plan” or “God doesn’t give you things you can’t handle” or anything that sounds remotely similar to this. I’m sorry but I refuse to believe that terrible, gut-wrenching things happen to people for a specific reason. No no no no no. Just. No. This article does a better job explaining why this is so damn painful than I ever could.
  6. “Oh, you’re still young. You have tons of time!” Just because you know my age doesn’t mean that you know my medical history. A lot of couples suffer from PCOS, endometriosis, low ovarian reserve, paltry sperm count or other issues that don’t have much to do with their age. And while it’s true that being “younger” increases your chance of fertility treatments working, it by no means guarantees success.
  7. “You can always do IVF!” IVF is a huge decision and is different for all couples. Not only is it financially crippling, it’s physically and emotionally crippling as well. And all of that work, money, blood, sweat and semen doesn’t even guarantee anything. While this is a great option for many lucky couples, it just isn’t something you can assume is an option for everyone.
  8. “It’ll happen! I just know it!” Oh man…I really want to hear this sometimes. This kind of blind faith and optimism is basically all I want to hear as a woman over 30 who is TTC. I want to know that it is going to happen. I want my guarantee from the universe. Somehow. Someway. But saying this can be really hurtful and harmful…it can feel delusional and insensitive and cause the fertility-challenged to just want to scream in your face “BUT WHAT IF IT DOESN’T!?” Because honestly? It might not.
  9. “My husband just LOOKS at me and I get pregnant…” This sentiment takes a particularly self-absorbed person to say. I think it’s pretty obvious why you shouldn’t say this to someone struggling. It’s similar to telling someone trying to lose weight that miraculously you can eat all the Oreo’s you want and STILL lose weight! ISN’T THAT FUNNY? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Congratulations, everyone hates you. (Fun fact: the only person who has said this to me has been my 89-year-old GRANDMOTHER when I told her we were trying to have a baby. THANKS, GRANDMA! Also? Gross.)
  10. Nothing at all. This to me is the most egregious of crimes…I’d rather have a friend say the “wrong” thing to me than not even try to talk to me about this massive boulder in my life. Either by not asking me about what’s going on with me, or worse…completely vanishing and emotionally bailing…that tells me you’re not a real friend. You’re not gonna be there for me during this gut-wrenching part? You don’t deserve to be there for me during the fun parts. Period.

What’s the most insensitive, awful thing someone has said to you about trying to conceive? I’m constantly amazed at how ridiculous people are…

Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. It took her and her husband Brad three years, two rounds of IVF and one frozen embryo transfer to see their first positive pregnancy test which brought them their daughter, born in March 2018. Elyse lives in Minneapolis and loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce and pretending she’s into yoga.

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