Things you should never say to an infertile woman


Ladies and Gents,

I live in the South.  There is nothing more important in a woman’s life in the South than growing up, getting married and having a baby.  It’s what we’re supposed to do.  There comes a time in a young woman’s life, especially after marriage, when the inevitable “When are you going to have baby?” question rears its ugly head.  Oh, it’s always some well-meaning elderly type of woman who thinks she is asking you an innocent question for conversational purposes, and doesn’t realize she just gutted you.

I have luckily learned that I can usually answer this question with “What do you mean?  My kids have 4 legs and a tail.”, I get a laugh and the question they really asked is avoided.  Occasionally, I am pressed to give a detailed answer to the question, and when I say “I can’t have kids” a new round of infertility quizzing/advice starts.

Things You Should Never Say to an Infertile Woman


I know someone who tried FOREVER to get pregnant and when they stopped trying it just happened.

Just please, never say this to an infertile woman.  I’m going to be bluntly honest here and tell you why.  We don’t CARE.  It’s not comforting in any way.  It doesn’t make us feel better, it doesn’t make us happy.  It’s like saying ‘Hey you know that thing you wanted really bad?  That thing that will send you into therapy and make your life miserable for years?  I know the person who avoided all that by randomly getting pregnant.”  (Oh, and your big cheesy grin while you say it makes it worse.)  Every time I hear someone say this phrase it makes me LIVID.  Like, punch em’ in the throat livid.

Just Relax

Do you tell someone with Cancer to just relax?  How about MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Heart issues, or someone in a wheelchair?  Infertility is a medical condition and while stress doesn’t help any medical condition, telling someone struggling with infertility to just relax is one of the most insulting things you can say.  Please don’t do it.

You can/should/why don’t you adopt/foster? 

First, adoption is NOT as quick and easy as everyone thinks it is.  Yes, I can go to state websites right now and find a gazillion kids up for adoption.  Yes, I can go pay enormous fees to an agency to find a child I am able to adopt.  Oh, and by enormous, I mean up to $30,000.  Someone always knows someone who is willing just to give a baby away too.

Really?  I knew a couple who met a young lady through a church who was willing to give her baby away.  She moved here, she went through the labor and she “gave” her baby away.  However, the Navajo Indian Nation took exception to a 1/2 Navajo baby being “given” away and 3 years and speciality lawyer fees later their daughter finally belonged to them.  Not to mention the waiting lists, the mothers who back out, OR the simple fact that you want to be able to hold your child NOW.

Fostering:  While I think fostering is an amazing gift and some people are cut out for it, not everyone is made to be a foster parent.  Not everyone is ok with a State Employee coming to their house whenever they want and making sure that you have chemicals in a place a 15-year-old can’t reach them.  Not everyone is ok with having their finances examined like the damn IRS is doing a tax audit.  Not everyone is ok with having every single detail of their lives scrutinized in order to have a child in their home when so many other people are able to have the same gift without the hassle.

Infertility and the struggles it causes in your life are hassle enough.  Some of us wear out long before we are emotionally able to fight those larger battles.

I know!  We’ve been trying for 6 months and haven’t gotten pregnant yet!  It’s AWFUL.

Infertility is not even diagnosed until you have been unable to conceive by doing ALL the right things at ALL the right times for a year.  ONE YEAR.  Infertility is not a bragging right.  It’s pain, humiliation, heartbreak, fear, depression, guilt, and genuine sadness.  While we understand you’re trying to relate, and maybe even make us feel at ease, we likely won’t have sympathy for you until a doctor says you’re infertile.  I hope it never happens for you, but if it ever does, the rest of us will love you and help you as much as we can.

Have you tried …???

Yes, yes we have.  We have propped up our hips and thrown our legs against the wall after sex.  We’ve tried different positions, we’ve tried charting and ovulation tests and apps for smart phones.  We’ve kept logs on our computers, we’ve read books, we’ve joined internet communities and quizzed doctors and anyone who might have a scrap of an idea on how to get pregnant.  WE’VE GONE PSYCHO over it.  Completely totally 100% certifiably BONKERS.  WE KNOW and WE’VE TRIED.

I was going to invite you to (insert random event involving children here) BUT…

There comes a time in every infertile woman’s life when her friends start moving ahead with families.  It’s natural for people who are able to have families and who want families to begin their own lives.  It’s understandable, and we’re ok with it.  We WANT you to be happy.  You see, an infertile woman would never wish infertility on anyone because we know how destructive it is in every way possible.  If you want kids, we want you to have them.  But…

We don’t want you to pretend for a single minute that you have any control over OUR emotions involving infertility.  If you want to be a good friend, you invite us to baby showers.  You invite us to birthday parties.  You are not responsible for OUR feelings when it comes to being around other children.  It is NEVER going to hurt our feelings to get invited to an event by someone who loves us and cares for us.  Yes, there may be times when we have to say, “I love you, but I just can’t this time”.  (And it’s because we’ll be in our beds watching A Baby Story and bawling because we don’t have kids.) We hope you understand.  But, if we LOVE YOU, we’re going to LOVE YOUR KIDS.  No, they didn’t come from us.  No, they are not ours, but it doesn’t mean we don’t LOVE THEM and that we don’t want to be involved.

It’s all part of God’s plan for you…

Here comes the most blunt of blunt I can be.  If you know the religious affiliation of the person you say this to, it MIGHT be comforting to them.  However, I can guarantee you that even the least devout person on the planet has dropped to their knees and prayed about it.  I promise you they have asked or even begged God for help already.  I promise you that there comes a time during infertility when people are ANGRY at God.  Why can a junkie have a baby when you can’t?  Why can’t your body just work like it should?  Why can’t you be NORMAL like every other woman who jokes around about her husband looking at her and getting pregnant?  Why is that couple griping about their tube tying not working and how they didn’t want another baby?  Why is that woman complaining about being pregnant when you would do almost anything to have swollen ankles while waddling through a grocery store?  Trust me, infertile people talk to God and not all of it is good.  If you say this to the wrong person at the wrong time, you’re likely to get a very unwelcome response.

I hope that a few lessons can be taken away from this post:

1.  Don’t ask when someone is going to have a baby.  If you think you know them well enough to ask, you’ll probably already know when they’re going to have kids.

2.  If you do ask, be prepared to give them a hug, say I’m sorry you’re going through that, and ask, “Is there anything I can do?” and MEAN IT.

A BIG THANK YOU to Michael Macks who took this awesome photo for me.  Obviously, I do not have baby shoes lying around the house!



Author: Jill Stewart

I am a 37 -year-old woman from Arkansas who is happily married to a Scottish immigrant aka “the hubby” “the hubs” or if I am calling him directly “YO YOU!” We’ve been married for 3 years and it’s been a crazy ride, and unfortunately our finances have been beat to death in the last few years. We have two dogs and a cat, no kids. The Blog- What’ll you find: Financial Information as we try to become debt free My attempts at working and trying to maintain a home to the standards I like My adventures in learning how to sew Arts and craft projects Funny tidbits from my life including living with a Scottish person, the dogs, and other oddball things that happen to me. What you won’t find: Much on children. I don’t have kids and I can’t have kids. Recipes- I don’t mind cooking, but unless it’s something really special, don’t come here looking for the weekly recipe! You won’t find it- unless you ask my husband. If you’re interested in what you see, please follow me on Facebook or sign up for emails! Most of all, leave a comment or ask a question! I am always happy to hear from you!

16 thoughts on “Things you should never say to an infertile woman

  1. I think women who are fertile really do just want to help. They don’t recognize the insensitivity of their words. Unless you know the struggle of an infertile woman either first hand or close friend you really just don’t understand the full range of effects it has on a woman.

  2. That as a very touching post.

    • I meant was… My eyes were all teared up I couldn’t see my screen, sorry.

      • Aww, sorry. I was trying to make anyone upset…I was actually worried it sounded mean. ><

      • It didn’t sound mean at all! I never realized that asking someone when they were going to have kids was such a loaded question until one of my best girlfriends had trouble conceiving. I saw the pain and hurt when people at work asked her about it. Then again saw the hurt when she had to tell us friends not to feel bad about talking about our pregnancies with her. It’s terrible and unfair. After seeing her struggles I no longer ask that question because you never know what someone is going through.

        I think it is good for people to read things like this and to become aware that asking someone when they are going to have kids is really a personal question. And even though people want to be helpful, offering unsolicited advice on such a personal topic is just down right rude and hurtful at times.

  3. Amen.

  4. Wonderful post! I have had all of these said to me at one time or another. And sometimes the combo – “I have a friend that got pregnant as soon as they adopted!” Yikes. I think I would add to your list my personal favorite: “I just KNOW it’s going to happen for you.” Um…no you don’t. And saying you do is insulting. Like you’re implying that YOU have some special God-given cosmic insight into MY very private and personal issue, that I am simply too dumb or too blind to have for myself. Please never say this to a woman trying to conceive! If she doesn’t KNOW it will happen, than you certainly don’t!

    • Jen,

      Thank you for coming by!

      It’s frustrating, which is why I wrote the post. It’s also (unfortunately) nice to know I am not the only one who needed to get this out!

  5. Man. I lost any faith I had in anything when I went though Infertility, and my mom asks me all the time how come I don’t believe in god anymore… I don’t know, I guess I got tired of being mad at him so it was easier to decide he didn’t exist, and that’s why I never got any prayers answered. Infertility is so difficult.. And I hated all those questions too.. Wanted to Throat punch anyone that ever said, Relax or Just stop trying and you’ll get pregnant.. There’s no Stopping trying. It’s on your brain ALL.THE.TIME when you’re in the midst of it, You can’t just turn that off.. not that it would work that way anyway, but I remember trying to stop trying. lol I’m glad there’s Blogs out there like this now that talk about what should and shouldn’t be said, hopefully someday people will figure it out. Thanks for this!

    • I too developed some very serious spiritual issues when infertility darkened my door step.

      I just couldn’t understand why people I knew who were druggies could pop them out left and right and while I was living like “you’re supposed to” and it couldn’t happen for me. Especially, when the particular person who annoyed me the most was a family member and I had to watch other people raise her kids because she was too busy being a junkie to handle them.

      It’s a rough road, and I will never tell someone how to handle their faith, but I can tell you I have made peace with infertility, and one day it will get easier. *hugs* Please come back again, and if you ever need to talk, feel free to email me.

  6. I have a 23 yr old daughter after 3 years of infertility treatment. People would tell us to “Just drink a bottle of wine/go on vacation/relax/stop trying so hard/adopt and you’ll get pregnant…” On and on – it was so hard to listen to.
    I spouted off at a smoking unwed co-worker who was pregnant after a huge drama just the month before abut whether or not she was pregnant with another unwanted child. I told her that with each cigarette draw she took, it was as though she was putting her hand over her baby’s mouth and nose. She was offended that I could be so mean. I wanted to hurt her. I’m so sad for you. It seems you are making peace with it, but this struck a chord with me – this many years later. Thanks for a great post.

    • Thank you very much for stopping by. You don’t have to be sad for me. Honestly, I am mostly ok with my infertility now. My life is overall pretty good, and there are times when I enjoy being able to be a selfish brat and not have to worry about anyone else! It does get under my skin occassionally, and that wound is always there, but I am also well past 10 years of being infertile, so I have had time to adjust. 😀

  7. I also hate the question “have you tried?” Like, really?!? Sometimes I feel like people are going to start giving me advice like maybe we don’t know how. It’s so frustrating!! Thanks for sharing this article.

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