Many of us will experience difficulty getting pregnant at some point in our lives. In Ireland, around 1 in 6 same-sex couples experience fertility issues, so chances are you or someone you know has experienced problems conceiving. However, the good news is 85% of these couples get pregnant naturally after one year of trying. And 95% of them are pregnant after two years of trying.
Although that’s an encouraging statistic, we can’t discount the gravity of the word “trying”. A couple is considered to be “trying” if they are having unprotected sex every 2-3 days. Anyone who has never been in a state of “trying” might think that sounds fantastic. However, if you’ve been there, you know it gets very unromantic and even tedious. Especially as months go by, Aunt Flo still visits even after the nasty words you threw at her when she arrived last month (she’s relentless).
Trying to conceive quickly becomes an all-consuming obsession, leaving the hopeful couple in a never-ending loop of “let’s stop talking about it now” only to continue talking about it 5 minutes later. In these times, good friends can be a welcome escape and one of the only things that pull you through.
In this article, we’re going to explore all the things you shouldn’t say to a couple trying to conceive, and some things you should say. In times of heightened emotion, it can be hard to know what to say. When it comes to fertility, so many people get it wrong. You can be your friend’s safe-place away from all the insensitive remarks and obsessive thoughts.
What NOT to say to someone trying to conceive
“I bet it will happen as soon as you stop trying!”
Often accompanied by “if you just relax it’ll happen naturally”. Although it’s true that too much stress can affect ovulation, this statement coming from a friend or acquaintance can feel like an attack on the woman. In their vulnerable and sensitive state, they hear this as “you are to blame for this situation, you are preventing yourself from getting pregnant”. Leave the stress management tips to their doctor.
“Why don’t you just do IVF?”
The average cost of IVF in Ireland starts at about €5,000 per cycle, so that’s a big reason why many people don’t just jump into an IVF clinic to solve their conception issues. Everyone is aware of IVF as an option, however, most people exhaust all their natural options before choosing IVF. A friend suggesting IVF can leave a couple feeling like they have no hope of conceiving naturally.
“I hated being pregnant!”
Often accompanied by “babysit my kids for a few hours, you might change your mind!”. If you’re looking for an opportunity to complain about parenthood, your struggling friend is not the right audience. We all know parenthood has its struggles (that’s putting it lightly!) but with this statement, all you’re doing is reminding them that you have everything they’re dreaming of. They crave the sleepless nights, the crying and the endless nappies. Nothing you say will make them think “wow babies sound annoying, I don’t want one anymore, problem solved!”.
“When are you going to have kids?”
This one falls under the category of “Things To Never Say To Any Human”. It also has terrible variations such as “when are you having another baby?” (bonus points if they add “your child will be lonely if you don’t give them a sibling”) and “you should get pregnant soon, you’re not getting any younger”. Fertility issues happen behind closed doors and couples have usually been trying for a while before confiding in anyone about their struggles. You never know who might be trying to get pregnant, who might be fighting back tears when they see a pram and who might be still feeling devastated after their most recent negative pregnancy test.
What to say to someone trying to conceive
Each individual’s journey is different so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to comforting someone who is experiencing difficulty getting pregnant. However, the best thing you can do is be there for them. Offering a non-judgemental and supportive ear. The person you’re supporting does not need you to have any answers, they just need to know you’re there for them.
When supporting someone experiencing fertility issues, many people will try to be a source of positivity. However, during moments when your friend is feeling hopeless, your unwavering positivity can come across as empty and false. Try not to shut down their biggest fears, but listen as they explain their fears to you. Often, people don’t share their biggest fear like “what if I never get pregnant?” with their partners as they don’t want to add tension or negativity to an already stressful situation. Be the person they can come to when they want to speak candidly about their situation without judgement or fear of upsetting the other person.
Finally, you can be their guardian angel against people who make unwelcome comments. Let people know when they make hurtful statements, how else can they learn to keep their noses out of other people’s fertility-related business? And if they need further guidance, direct them to this blog post!