What not to say to someone with infertility

I created this page because I know that many infertile couples are faced with less than helpful "advice" from friends and family. I myself have been dismissed by some of the few people I opened up to about our struggles, and it really hurts! If someone is brave enough to confide in you about their infertility - which can be a daunting prospect in itself - please don't say or do any of the following:

  • Don't tell them to relax! This is infuriating, and it implies that the couple are somehow at fault - as in, if they would just relax, they'd get pregnant. This isn't the case for someone who is actually infertile. To be classed as infertile, it means a couple has failed to conceive after 12 months of unprotected sex. Most couples start out pretty relaxed about TTC, so if after 12 months nothing has happened, there's likely something wrong somewhere - and it's not their attitude.
  • Don't tell them how lucky they are that they get time to themselves, or get to sleep in. Just don't. If you want a baby more than anything else in the world, you'd be happy to be woken up during the night to tend to your baby. 
  • Don't dismiss their pain. Don't tell them that worse things could happen. Don't tell them it will happen when it's the right time. These things are hurtful, not helpful.
  • Don't fob them off with "It's OK, you're young!". Just because someone is young it doesn't mean that their infertility isn't real. In fact, for someone who's infertile, being young isn't reassuring. We're supposed to be more fertile when we're young, so if someone is really struggling to get pregnant when they should be at peak fertility, it's often more worrying. If they can't get pregnant when they're young then as they get older, their chances aren't likely to get higher!
  • Don't joke about how easy it is for you to get pregnant. That's rubbing salt in the wound. "My husband only has to look at me and I get pregnant!" - really, how nice for you! Yes, that was my sarcasm font.
  • Don't say "I completely understand what you're going through, it took me 4 whole months to get pregnant!". If it only took you a few months to conceive, you really don't understand what it's like to be infertile. Saying you do isn't helpful.
  • Don't joke "You can take one of my kids for the day; you'll soon change your mind about wanting a baby!". We don't want your kids, we want our own.
  • Don't complain constantly about your pregnancy. An infertile woman would give anything to be in your shoes, swollen feet and all. We do understand that some aspects of pregnancy must suck, but please save your complaints for your fertile friends instead of kicking us when we're down!
  • Don't say "Why don't you just adopt?". Infertile people are perfectly aware that adoption might be an option, but people who say this usually don't have any idea what adopting actually entails. Plus, fertile people don't normally consider adopting, and suggesting it flippantly when it's not something you would do yourself can be hurtful.
  • Don't tell them they must be doing something wrong. Most couples who are infertile have done their research: the chances are that they're doing everything right. Making light of their situation isn't helpful to anybody.
  • Don't say "But you're the perfect couple, you can't be infertile!". While we obviously wish these things worked that way, they clearly don't. If they did, we wouldn't be infertile and people wouldn't have babies as the result of a one night stand, etc.
  • Don't say "It's God's will". That makes it sound as though we're somehow not good enough to be parents. If it's God's will that decent, loving people should be infertile, then who's responsible for allowing horrible people to have kids just to abuse them? Or is that God's will, too?
  • Don't make jokes like "Well at least you can have fun trying!". People who say this haven't had to really try to get pregnant. Actively TTC often involves the following: charting basal body temperatures, checking your cervix, timing intercourse, using expensive fertility friendly lubricants, using OPKs... Does that really sound like fun? It isn't! 
  • Don't say "It'll happen when you stop trying!". Yes, taking a break from TTC can sometimes be a good thing, but there's no proof to back up that claim. Chances are, if pregnancy isn't happening when everything is being done right, you're not going to magically get pregnant by not timing things correctly.

I'm sure there are many more things I haven't thought of, but you get the idea! If you have a suggestion, feel free to leave a comment and I'll add it to the list!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I hate the stuff people say, especially "relax" - ugh! I'm sure there are a million more I haven't thought of, too!

  2. I love this!!! My DH and I have tried for 6 years now. These things that people say are ridiculous!!! And I especially hate relax, God's will and just stop trying. Ugh....they get on my nerves soooooooo freaking bad!!!!! Thanks for posting this. I may steal it and put it on my facebook just so people will quit saying this to me. LOL

    1. Please feel free to steal it! I hope you and your DH have some luck soon. 6 years - I can't even imagine :( Positive thoughts for you both!!