Here at Yinova, many of our patients come to us to enhance their fertility. Whether we’re helping them conceive naturally or using acupuncture to accompany their IVF treatments, we know how difficult, stressful, and polarizing even, this experience can be.
For someone struggling with fertility it can be particularly stressful when people around them bring up children. Even if the conversation is coming from a well intentioned place, it can bring up feelings of frustration, loss, and anxiety. It can be difficult enough to decide if you even want kids. If a couple does want children, then there’s the added layer of deciding when. If a couple who does want children then carries on to discover it might not be as easy as they had hoped, chances are extremely high that they will not want to then share the details of their often lengthy struggle with every person who asks.
We’ve teamed up with Alli, founder of Robyn, a community and content hub changing the fertility conversation, to come up with our list of what not to say to people trying to conceive:
1. “Just relax, it’ll happen eventually! Plus, stressing out about it is probably going to make it harder to get pregnant!”
It can be painful for anyone experiencing difficulty conceiving to hear this seemingly blasé advice. This is also scientifically inaccurate—there is nothing out there that says “relaxing” increases chances of conception. Trying to conceive can be an extremely stressful time, whether you’ve been trying for a few months or a few years. Finding healthy ways to reduce stress can be helpful for both your body and mind. For some this might mean getting a massage, going for an acupuncture session, or taking a long walk with a good friend. However, don’t be discouraged if you’re having trouble “relaxing”—chances are there is little to no impact on your chances of conception.
2. “Trust me – you are lucky you don’t have kids!”
The word ‘lucky’ is very sensitive for anyone trying to conceive. Because there is so much out of your control during the process, it’s hard not to think about how ‘lucky’ every pregnant woman and new mom is. For someone to then turn that around and say that you’re the lucky one is very offensive. Try to stay away from any and all comparisons – everyone’s journey is different!
3. “Any news?”
It’s hard enough to live month-to-month and cycle-to-cycle when people aren’t asking you for your monthly report. Your friend or loved one will decide to share when he or she wants to. Try something like, “I won’t ask about the details but just know that I am here for you whenever you need me.” That will go over much better!
4. “Why don’t you just use a surrogate or do IVF?”
Surrogacy can be one way to surmount fertility issues and a beautiful way to start a family; however, it comes with a steep financial burden as well as emotional issues to work through. For many women, it’s an important psychological milestone to even be ready to step away from the idea of carrying a child. Because you’re not a therapist, and you’re not ready to fork over thousands of dollars to pay for this solution, best not to suggest it in a casual manner. Ditto to the IVF topic. Double ditto to adoption.
5. “You’re still young, you have plenty of time to figure this out.”
When you’re trying to conceive, time plays funny tricks on you. A month of waiting can feel like an eternity and at the same time, you can look back and realize you’ve spent multiple years trying to conceive. Age is also a sensitive subject as fertility does tend to decrease with age for both men and women. In general, this is one of those times when “giving advice” or “imparting knowledge” might not be the best route. Offering to listen or support will always be better received.
6. “You two would have such cute babies!”
While this might seem super innocent and sweet, to a couple struggling to conceive this could be more of a frustrating reminder of what hasn’t happened yet. Find another way to phrase the compliment and move on!
7. “Have you tried this, this, or that?”
Eating the core of a pineapple with their legs in the air whilst listening to a special meditation app… yes, chances are they have tried everything, and anything you might suggest, as helpful as you might want to be, might end up being more frustrating to hear than anything. Again, move away from “advice” and to “support” and your friend will be much more appreciative!
Nobody intends to cause any distress when asking about baby plans, usually it’s just an inquiry from an excited relative, hoping to share the joy of a child, without realizing that sometimes there is a lot of grief and disappointment before that joy and excitement.
A good alternative? Ask about the best thing that’s happening right now, so that you can share in that excitement instead.