Part One: How Not to Talk About Infertility (As the Person Not Experiencing It)

Infertility is not the only reason a family might look to alternative family planning methods like surrogacy or egg donation, but it is a very common one. While not nearly as difficult as experiencing infertility when you want a child, it can be very difficult to witness a loved one going through the struggle – and it can be nearly impossible to know what to say that might ease their burden, or at least not make them feel any worse

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Try to avoid asking if they have tried common and widespread fertility “fixes”, like tracking cycles and adjusting their diet. If someone is struggling with infertility to the extent that they are telling others about it, odds are they have tried everything you could possibly suggest – and then some. 
  • Avoid platitudes. Don’t tell this person to stop thinking about it, or that “relaxing” will make it happen. Not only does this usually have the opposite impact on their mood, but it also implies (whether you meant it or not) that they are directly feeding their own infertility by being upset. While mood and mental state do matter, it is simply not helpful. Think about it: when was the last time someone telling you to calm down did anything but make you more upset? 
  • Do not suggest they get a pet instead. Pets are beloved members of the family, but a person who wants to be pregnant does not want to hear that pregnancy is the same as going to the local animal shelter. For those struggling with infertility, the unborn children they dream of are not dreams you can simply swap out for a dog – no matter how wonderful that dog is. 
  • On the subject, it is also not a good idea to suggest adoption. Adoption is an expensive and in-depth process that one cannot (and should not) undergo casually or as a “fall back plan”. Apart from how your loved one might feel hearing this suggestion, adopted children deserve to be chosen wholeheartedly by enthusiastic parents and not treated as a consolation prize to someone who is grieving the “loss” of their future biological children. If your loved one ends up gravitating towards adoption, they will do that on their own and in good time: they do not need you to suggest it, especially as to them it may feel like you are suggesting that they “give up” on trying to have a baby. 
  • Try not to project your unrelated situation onto theirs – unless you have been in their shoes, it’s best not to compare your pregnancy journey with theirs, especially if it has a happy ending. Your joy is valid, but this will simply make the person feel like you aren’t hearing them if you try to draw those parallels.

There is no guaranteed “right thing” to say to a loved one struggling with infertility, but avoiding some of these common mistakes can help to ensure your conversations don’t alienate you from that person, or add any additional pain and stress to their journey. Please contact us at Simple Surrogacy if you have any questions or would like to learn more about alternative family planning.

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