Parents know how the story goes: boy meets girl, they get married, have kids, and live happily ever after, right? Not exactly. Unfortunately the fairy tale doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes roadblocks pop up and knock you off your feet. Sometimes they appear while trying to start your family.
One of the most difficult things a couple can go through is infertility. After trying numerous things to conceive, they turn to IVF. IVF can drain them physically, emotionally, and even financially. Infertility is a common problem, and most of us probably know of someone (maybe ourselves) who have dealt with it.
Couples who face infertility may have to mourn the loss of a child they’ve never had the chance to meet every single month. They begin each monthly cycle with hope that this time might be successful, and no matter how much they’ve prepared, another failed treatment renews their feelings of loss.
Couples undergoing IVF are vulnerable and are looking for support from their loved ones. They might find talking about their situation difficult, and their friends and family might struggle with what to say to them.
As good as your intentions might be to be supportive, there are some things that a woman going through IVF does not need to hear. We share some of the most common insensitive things people say to women trying IVF, so you can avoid insulting her.
15 Just Relax
Telling someone to “just relax” usually has the opposite effect. It causes more stress for the woman, and makes her feel like she’s the one to blame for causing the infertility issues because she is stressing too much. In reality, there is a very good chance it’s a physical problem preventing the pregnancy. If relaxing was the problem, IVF procedures probably wouldn’t exist.
Telling a woman going through IVF to relax is like telling someone on a transplant list the same thing. “You’re waiting for a kidney? Just relax and it will happen.” You wouldn’t say that to them, so don’t say it to a woman trying to get pregnant. She has likely gone through multiple steps to get to the point of trying IVF. If she was relaxed in the beginning of her pregnancy venture and it didn’t help, why do people think it will all of a sudden change things now?
14 It’ll Happen
If you tell her you are sure she will conceive, then you might as well tell her when it will happen too. Give her the winning lottery numbers for Saturday night’s drawing while you are at it. Because how do you really know it is going to happen? People who try IVF are really hoping it will happen, but they know it’s not a sure thing. They are told the risks before even starting and can probably tell you what the percent of success rate is.
When you tell someone going through infertility treatments that they will be successful, you are actually shutting them out. After a comment like that, how can they share their fears with you? They want to be able to open up to their friends about how they feel.
And what if it doesn’t happen? Can you face your friend again after telling her that you were so sure she'd be successful? We realize your comments are probably coming from a good place. You just need to put yourself in her shoes before blurting things out and think it through first.
13 You Can Have One Of My Kids
I’m sorry, but she doesn’t want one of you kids. That isn’t even funny. She’s trying to get pregnant because she wants her own child. Making a joke out of infertility issues, however good the intention might be, is never a good idea.
Offering up one of your own kids, and even complaining about your own children or pregnancy only creates an awkward situation. For a woman facing infertility, being around friends who are pregnant or already have kids can be extremely difficult. It’s a constant reminder of what she may never have. Help make it easier for her by not cracking jokes or complaining about your situation. There are many people who would kill to be in your shoes.
On the other hand, don’t try and hide your kids from her. Yes, she desperately wants to have a baby, but she is not going to kidnap yours. She wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone, and is very happy that you have children of your own to cherish. Just act normal around her.
12 I’m So Sorry You Have To Go Through This
She’s not dying and she does not have cancer. A comment like this will only embarrass her. She’s just trying to get pregnant and needs a little help. It’s nothing that requires your sympathy. If things go right, this awful path you think she is walking down could end up being the most wonderful and beautiful journey of her lifetime. It could be the steps needed to make all her dreams come true. Focus on the excitement of what could happen instead of the pity you feel for what she must endure to get there.
Support a friend going through IVF by learning about the process yourself. Knowledge is power, and if you understand the steps she is taking, you may have some useful questions to ask her. Many times, she is just looking for someone to listen and to just understand what she is going through.
11 Have You Tried “Insert Amazing Idea”?
Yes, she has probably tried the genius idea of standing on her head after sex to ensure the sperm reaches her egg. And it clearly didn’t work. Most women have tried almost everything before resorting to medical intervention. They’ve spent their salaries on ovulation prediction tests, charted their temperatures, switched their husband’s underwear to boxers, and many more ideas that we have probably never heard of. They don’t need to hear your stories of a woman who became pregnant after undergoing acupuncture, taking special vitamins, or any other hokey infertility cure.
IVF is extremely expensive, so it’s often a last resort for couples trying to have children. Most people have exhausted all other options before turning down this road. And I doubt there are any women going through IVF that want to hear about some woman becoming pregnant trying some simple, cracker jack box idea. If that were the case, infertility clinics would be obsolete.
10 It’s Not The End Of The World
She realizes that her infertility issues are not going to end the world. However, dealing with infertility makes her small piece of the world seem so much more unbearable. There may be worse things to you that could happen, but do you have authority on what is the worst for everyone? Don’t trivialize someone else’s issues by telling her it’s not the worst thing that could happen, nor that it’s not the end of the world. Everyone reacts different ways to every situation. Not everyone has the same difficulties in their lives. What may be the worst thing in the world for her might not be that big of a deal to you, and vocalizing that is hurtful.
Let her share her feelings with you, and then offer her support. She just wants someone to listen to her vent, and give her a hug. It’s an emotionally hard time, and you should let her know you are there, and on her side.
9 Why Not Just Adopt?
Adoption is a wonderful choice for many people. However, for some women, they just have an overwhelming urge to get pregnant and carry their own baby. Many infertile couples might even have adoption as an option – they are just not at that point yet.
You may know women who struggled with infertility, adopted a child, and then got pregnant on her own. This doesn’t happen to everyone. Adoption isn’t a treatment for infertility. Adoption can create a wonderful family, but in can be just as expensive and at time, just as heartbreaking as IVF. It can also be a very long process, and some people choose not to go down that road.
Some couples need to have time to accept the possibility of never having a biological child before they can even begin to consider adopting. For other couples, adoption may not even be a choice on the table for them. Infertile couples are by no means required to consider adoption if other methods of infertility treatments fail.
8 Whose Fault Is It?
The causes of infertility are just about equally shared by female and male partners. Unless you are one of those partners, it is none of your business about which person is having the physical barriers. Sometimes there is no explanation for infertility. In some cases, doctors cannot find any medical reason why a couple can’t conceive. And it is not your place to analyze what the problem may be, and who is the culprit.
If a friend confides in you that she and her partner are experiencing infertility, it does not mean she is opening the door to describe all the details. Let her take the lead and share only as much as she feels comfortable doing so. Fertility treatments are extremely private, so be sure to respect your friend’s privacy. Treat any information she shares with you with respect, and don’t gossip about it with friends or family members.
7 You’ve Got Plenty of Time
Do not tell a woman going through infertility issues that she has plenty of time to conceive unless you know all the facts. Like, for instance, do you know that if a woman under age 35 is unable to conceive in a years’ time, that she is encouraged to seek out a fertility specialist? Being young, and having more fertile months than an older woman doesn’t guarantee your success of getting pregnant. It might increase the chance of fertility treatments working, but it also may take more time than you realize to reach that success. Most women have already tried for at least a year before seeking out a fertility specialist. The chances of conceiving during the first round of IVF is 30%. For many women, it takes several rounds before they finally get rewarded with a positive pregnancy test.
What exactly is “plenty of time?” To the person going through infertility, it’s time they are losing with their potential child. It’s more time to wonder, worry, stress, and wait.
6 My Friend Tried 7 Rounds of IVF And Then Conceived Naturally
Super! Just a few hundred more injections, blood tests, negative pregnancy tests, thousands of dollars, etc. to go. The list of things one must endure goes on and on. One of women’s biggest worries, besides not ever getting pregnant, is spending a huge part of her life going through intense fertility treatments. They do it, in hopes of finally having their child, but so much time, energy, and money is spent on it.
Even though you may have a friend that was able to conceive naturally after trying IVF doesn’t mean that is the case for all women. Even those who are successful with IVF do not increase the chances of the next woman walking through the clinic doors achieving that same success.
Instead of sharing another woman’s stories with a friend going through IVF, offer to go to an appointment with her instead. She will appreciate having someone to lean on, and laugh with much more than any stories you have.
5 I Could Never Give Myself Shots
If there is one piece of advice we can offer, it is that you should never say never. We don’t know what our future holds, and any one of us could face an issue such as infertility down the road. To say you could never give yourself shots like someone going through IVF is, is probably an untrue statement. What if you were to become diabetic? Could you take numerous shots a day to stay alive? What if you were having a severe allergic reaction to something? Could you give yourself a shot to save your life? Until you walk in someone else’s shoes, you have no idea how you would react in a certain situation.
When you desperately want something, like a child, you will do whatever you have to, to increase your chances of success. Part of being a parent is sacrificing certain things in your own life, and going through infertility treatments is one way of being a parent.
4 You’ll End Up Like Octomom
When someone has a large multiple pregnancy, such as Octomom or Kate Gosselin, it makes headlines because it is rare. Multiple in pregnancy due to fertility treatments are the exception and not the rule.
You may have a higher chance of becoming pregnant with multiples (we’re talking twins, and not septuplets), but the majority of women who undergo IVF end up with a single a baby growing in their womb.
Do not compare your friend’s IVF experience with the latest headline gossip out there. The chances of having a twin, triplet, or larger pregnancy depends on how many embryos were transferred, the age of the woman, family history, and other factors. Remember that not all embryos that are transferred survive, and even if only one embryo is transferred, it could split, resulting in a twin pregnancy.
A couple seeking treatments for infertility are well aware of all the risks and potential outcomes. They don’t need anyone outside their medical practice advising them.
3 Doesn’t That Cost A Ton Of Money?
Yes, IVF is expensive. And it may surprise you to know that it’s very expensive even with great insurance. Many insurance plans do not cover much (if any) of the expenses related to the treatments, so couples are left covering the costs of each procedure, visit, prescription, etc. on their own. Without insurance help, you are looking at a five-figure bill to undergo just a single cycle. The financial burden of undergoing IVF is one of the biggest stressors surrounding it. Many couples who pursue IVF are making financial sacrifices in other areas of their life just for the opportunity to try to become parents. Be sensitive to that, and respect their privacy.
If you decide to approach someone going through IVF and ask about their financial situation, be prepared to discuss your debt and expenses in detail also. It’s only fair that you have to indulge personal information as well.
2 Did You Try It Naturally?
Of course she hasn't tried naturally! She though she'd spend all her hard-earned money and turn her body into a human pincushion for fun instead. Why bother with plain old sex?
Let's be real; anyone who is doing IVF has already tried conceiving the natural way, and it hasn't produced the result they were hoping for. They've also tracked their cycles, taken different medications, changed their diet, and a number of other natural remedies. None have been successful in producing a child, so they have chosen to undergo IVF treatments as their next step.
Any couple going through IVF wishes it would have happened the old-fashioned way instead. There is nothing romantic about having her husband jack off in a room in the clinic, while a huge, long needle is being inserted into her ovaries in the hopes of collecting some eggs. They would much rather conceive a baby from a passionate night of heavy foreplay and intercourse.
1 Maybe You’re Just Not Meant To Have Kids
Come on, saying this is just plain cruel. Infertility is not about being punished by God. It’s a medical condition that happens to many women. Are you saying that the pregnant woman on the corner smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer is more deserving to be a mom than the one who is financially, emotionally, and physically stable, but cannot conceive without help? The universe does not decide who gets to be a mom and who doesn’t.
Just because a woman is unable to get pregnant on her own, it does not mean she should never have kids. That is why fertility treatments, surrogacy, and adoption exist.
A woman going through the IVF process is already stressed enough and possibly even a little depressed about the situation. People make things 100 times worse when they blurt out comments like this. Instead, try lifting her spirits up and encourage her to keep trying - tell her that it can happen!