Monday, April 26, 2010
What Not to Say to an Infertile Person/Couple
Anyone dealing with infertility has received their fair share of ignorant, insensitive, or just plain pointless comments or suggestions. My boss once told me to "just do it in the back of a Chevy. Seems to work for all the teenagers..." Gee, thanks, but first of all my eggs are a LOT older than those of said teenagers, and I really don't think having sex in a car is going to override my endometriosis and egg quantity/quality issues. Sigh. I mean, he really was a great guy and I get that he was just trying to be funny but it really was just annoying and hurtful.
The following is a list of what not to say (and what's ok to say) to an infertile couple and is taken from www.dreambaby.com/do-not-say.htm
Don't ask a childless person when they are going to have a child. They may be going through the process of trying to conceive but have not yet achieved success. Asking them only reminds them of their problem. They need no extra reminders.
Don't relate stories of your fertility to them. Hearing "my husband just has to look at me and I get pregnant" is very annoying. While well-meaning, the statement is insensitive.
Don't give advice such as "just relax," "you are trying too hard" or "take a cruise." All of these very common comments imply that the couple have control of their fertility . Most of the time, these couples have absolutely no control over their fertility. Implying control leads to feelings of failure and guilt when this advice doesn't work.
Don't offer advice such as sexual timing, position, herbal medications or other totally unproven therapies. There are literally hundreds of old-wife's-tails that, when followed, can drive an infertile patient nearly crazy. Their physician will have covered those natural aspects of their care that may maximize their chances for conception. Once again, please to not imply that they have a sense of control.
Don't express your derogatory personal opinions regarding insemination procedures, test-tube babies or adoption. Sometimes, these are their only hope for having a child. These are your opinions and uninvited advice is rarely desired nor constructive. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion, simply keep it your own. If they ask for your advice, then feel free to state your opinions, but do so in a kind and considerate manner.
Don't place blame by accusing the couple of exercising too much, eating the wrong foods or drinking alcohol. These couples may already be blaming themselves. Their physician will have already covered the medical and reproductive consequences of obesity, smoking, alcohol and recreation drugs. Support them in the cessation of these activities and minimize the guilt associated with their consumption. The guilt rarely leads to cessation but often moves the individual to increased consumption.
What You Can Say and Do...
Do provide couples with plenty of emotional support by saying "It must be difficult to go through this" and "I'm here to listen if you need to talk."
Do remember that men can be just as emotional about the problem, sometimes even more so. They may feel their masculinity is at risk.
Do understand the couple's need for privacy.
Do try to understand that if they are your employees, frequent doctor's appointments may be necessary during business hours. Please try to accommodate them as much as possible. Not doing so may also be construed as a form of discrimination and place you at legal risk.
Do understand why they may not make it to a baby shower or a holiday event. These frequent events can become overwhelming for an infertile couple.
Do tell the infertile couple that there is hope.
Please remember that the vast majority of infertile couples have minimal control of the diseases that causes their infertility. Giving them emotional support during this trying time is a wonderful way to assist them. Giving them subtle hints that they have control plants the seeds of failure in the minds of the infertile patient.