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What Not to Say

Man and woman in silence

Infertile couples need emotional support from those closest to them. You may not know what to say to make things better, but knowing what to say can offer them support as well.

  • Relaxing will not change infertility. Telling a woman to “just relax” can create more stress, making her feel like she is doing something wrong. Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem, and being unsuccessful at becoming pregnant after a full year of trying is considered infertility by definition.
  • Attempting to minimize the couple’s pain by saying “I would love to sleep late” or “Spend your time and money traveling” is not helpful. Infertile couples are very aware of the joys a child brings to someone’s life, which is why they are trying so hard to have a baby.
  • Pessimism offers neither comfort or support. Never say that “maybe it’s not meant to be.” Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment.
  • The procedures the couple must undergo are very personal. Comments or jokes like “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for insemination” can create additional anxiety and embarrassment for the couple and may dilute their trust in their medical team.
  • Don’t put an infertile friend in the awkward position of comforting you during your pregnancy by complaining about it. Choose a different friend or family member to share your pregnancy woes.
  • Most infertile couples have researched alternative methods for creating a family, and together with their physician, they will decide what options are best. Advocating for a particular option puts unnecessary pressure on the couple, who will choose a different path if and when they are ready.

Be sensitive to the pain, stress and emotional pressure of the loss and disappointment they may be facing. Listen, openly communicate your warmth and compassion, and ask how you can best support the couple during this time.