10 things not to say to your infertile friend:

9 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

1. “Take a vacation.”

If I was going to get pregnant from taking a vacation, I think I’d
have quite a large family by now. I live in France, we have FIVE WEEKS
of vacation a year. And let me tell you, we have had some quite
pleasurable attempts at baby-making on many, many of said vacations.

2. “Relax, just stop thinking about it.”

Does a doctor tell a patient with a hernia or heart problems or
cancer to stop thinking about it? I think not. Infertility is no
different from any other medical conditions, there is usually a medical

3. “Why don’t you just adopt?”

‘Just’ adopting doesn’t exist. Adoption is a long and difficult
process. There are many reasons why infertile couples don’t ‘just’
adopt. In our own experience, we did actually begin adoption
proceedings, but after hearing the truth about how difficult it is here
in France, decided that at this time adopting isn’t for us.

‘Just’ adopting in France takes from five to seven years, and less
than five percent of the couples that begin the adoption process
actually have a child in the end. Oh, and in case you think we ere just
being too picky, let me clarify that in our initial paperwork we did
not ask for a newborn and we are completely open to foreign adoption.
We agreed to accept several children from the same family and that the
oldest could be up to nine years old.

Adoption is also very expensive, and with an under five percent
success rate, we decided that our chances of having a child before I am
forty were better with IVF.

When people ask me why I don’t ‘just’ adopt, I’m often tempted these days to ask them why they don’t.

4. “I knew a couple who had given up trying to have a baby and just after filing for adoption, the woman got pregnant!”

It seems like every ignorant non-infertile knows this couple, who
magically got pregnant after filling out adoption paperwork. I would
like to know, is there a special formula? Should I pay the filing fee
as well and look through the catalogs of children waiting for homes?
Will that help me trick my body more effectively? Maybe I can spin
around in circles while standing on my head and do a rain dance as well.

5. “You’re still young honey, you have time.”

Infertility knows no age.

At twenty nine, I went off the pill, my gynecologist told me after a
year of trying to conceive that we had time. After the second year I
was pregnant, then had a miscarriage, which he took as proof that
‘everything as working’ and told me we had time. At thirty one, two
years after the miscarriage and four years after going off the pill he
finally let me be tested.

I’ll never forget the day he sat me down in his office and explained
to me that I had high FSH and what that meant. ‘Diminished ovarian
reserve’ – he told us that I was very lucky to have been pregnant once
and that we had no time to lose. This was the first time someone
compared my ovaries to a woman over forty. I felt shocked, betrayed.
Everyone had said we were ’so young’. We were young, my ovaries were not.

During this last IVF cycle, we learned that my right ovary is going into menopause. I’m thirty three.

6. “Just don’t be another Octomom!”

I have received this comment more times than I care to admit since ‘coming out’ about the fact that we are going the IVF route.

It makes me cringe every time.

The classic Octomom comment is not only ignorant and inappropriate,
it shuts down all communication between myself and the person who makes
it. I don’t see how I could open up all the difficulty and depth that
comes with doing IVF to someone who is willing to make such an inane
comparison before understanding what we are going through. Comparing a
regular person who seeks IVF to Nadya Suleman is like comparing someone
who is having marital problems to the girl sleeping with her
step-father that you saw on the Jerry Springer Show.

7. “Why don’t you just do IVF?”

Many infertiles do not go the IVF route, for various reasons. Again
‘just’ doing IVF is like ‘just’ adopting. It doesn’t exist. IVF is a
long, arduous procedure. It taxes a woman’s body as well as her
emotions in a way only someone undergoing it can understand. It puts
strain on your marriage, it is very expensive, often not covered by
health insurance, and there is no guarantee on the outcome.

Many people have ethical concerns about the procedure, when it comes
to embryo creation and freezing, and what to do with the little guys
when you don’t need them any more. It is something every couple
undergoing the procedure has to think about, and some do not feel
comfortable with the grayness of such questions.

Doing IVF or not doing IVF is such adifficult and personal choice, and is not something taken lightly.

8. “IVF is immoral.”

If a couple has decided to pursue in-vitro fertilization, they have
likely worked through the gray area of questions and do not need
blanket statements condemning their choice. Often these kind of
statements arise from ignorance about the actual procedure, not to
mention statements from the pope/pulpit about embryo wastage and how
assisted procreation technology “violates human dignity” and that IVF
is wrong because it “separates human procreation from the conjugal

There are so many things I could say about this, and other opinions
that have been formed on IVF from a religious standpoint, but it really
deserves it’s own post. Half of my family is Catholic, and most of the
others are Evangelical. Needless to say, we have had some very hurtful
comments from people who really were just trying to help. I’ve had
every Bible verse you can imagine quoted at me, in order to steer us
from our deviation off the ‘narrow path’.

I have often asked for prayer, and while most people respond that
they are, and they will, and that they are hoping and believing with
us, there always is that one person that rather than supporting, uses
the opportunity to preach at us.

The first person I told about losing our tiniest of pregnancies
after our first cycle of IVF told me that he ‘hadn’t felt led’ to pray
for us, and losing the pregnancy was, for him, confirmation that what
we were doing was not immoral.

Another loved one, when hearing that w are planning to try again in
the fall, told me I should pray about it, stating that, “If the Lord
doesn’t build the house we labor in vain.” This person, whom I dearly
love, had recently lost her husband to cancer. I wonder how she would
have felt is someone quoted that same verse to her concerning she and
her husband’s decision to pursue chemotherapy? Out of love, I did not
ask her and calmly changed the subject.

If a loved one has decided to pursue IVF, why not try to understand the procedure rather than blindly condemning it?

9.”My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant!”

Oh, thank you for the side of salt to go with my wounds, how
thoughtful! Why don’t you tell me how you were on the pill or
breastfeeding and they just kept coming? Would you like me to plan your
baby shower (on the anniversary of my miscarriage) while we’re on the

10.“God has a plan. Trust Him.”

Along the lines of the whole ‘God’ argument, this would be a whole
other post as well, with a side of philosophy, theology and apologetics.

God has a plan. OK, so I know this kid, a teenager, who grew up in
Rwanda and saw his parents shot before his eyes just before being
kidnapped by a rebel army that turned him into a killer.

“God has a plan.”

What? Did God’s plan involve this child becoming an orphaned
murderer against his own will? Does ‘God’s plan’ involve babies dying
and people starting and my bank account being in the red and my failed
right ovary and high FSH?

Being a believer doesn’t mean you have to be so stupid. God may have
a plan but their are environmental and medical factors causing
infertility, and it is more and more common. Would you tell someone
dying of AIDS that “God has a plan”? Do you mean to say that God gave
them AIDS?

I have a new slogan: “God has a plan; shit happens.”

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Here’s a game – what
are some things people have said to YOU other infertiles that should be

For the non-infertiles reading this, are their things about
infertility and those going through it that you would like help better
understanding? If so, then what?

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