If you have endured the difficulties of infertility, you have no doubt received unsolicited advice such as this. If you are like me and now have been given a baby, you can look back on the flippant comments, maybe even chuckle under your breath, and just shake your head, saying, “Yes, I’ve heard that one before.” However, if you are currently experiencing infertility, I know how painful these crass and absurd words can sound, even if they are delivered, at best, by someone trying to make you feel better, or at worst, coming from someone who speaks before thinking.
According to resolve.org, the vast majority of individuals who have infertility have a medical reason, not a stress-related one. Stress and infertility may have a connection when one has been trying and not conceiving for awhile, but there has never been a study which shows that simply relaxing increases pregnancy rates. I like the advice one blogger wrote, instead of telling someone to relax, why not give her something that will help her relax, like a gift certificate for a massage or a pedicure, or treating her to lunch!
The flippancy of these comments implies that a couple’s infertility problems really have no medical basis, that it’s all in their heads, and they’re just too uptight. This comment insults them because it undermines the problem and their emotional struggles. Studies show that the average couple who has unprotected intercourse with no intentional timing will, over the course of the year, get pregnant. After a year, it’s time to see a doctor. Those who actually pay attention to the calendar (i.e., those trying to get pregnant) aren’t jinxing themselves into infertility. (From Infertility: A Surivival Guide for Couples and Those Who Love Them by Cindy Lewis Dake)
The last advice about drinking the water is one I heard countless times at church and work when there was a surge of pregnant women. If only it were that easy, right?
To my friends who may read this: If you wonder, “I hope I didn’t say any of those things; is she talking about me?” As a professor once said in my class, “If you are the one who always wonders if I’m referring to you, it’s not you. It’s those who don’t worry that I’m referring to them that I’m talking about!”
If you want to share your more memorable or ludicrous words of advice you have received about getting pregnant – in other words, “what NOT to say” – feel free to comment. Please do not share anything vulgar or offensive. I’ve tried to write in a way that is not cynical or sarcastic, although it is sometimes difficult to read one’s tone in an email, on facebook, or on a blog.