10 Popular Sayings That Hurt Infertile People’s Feelings

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I blog about women's health, infertility, and infertility treatments like IVF, egg donation, and surrogacy at http://www.fertilitynation.com.

Abbie has written 3 articles for ComLuv.com
I normally write at http://www.fertilitynation.com

Twitter: @FertilityNation | Facebook

I made this infographic because I wanted to raise awareness about people with infertility and the things we sometimes say that could hurt the feelings of infertile people trying to conceive.

I have a fairly optimistic view of human nature. I believe people usually want to be sensitive to others’ feelings. I know that people who use these sayings don’t mean to intentionally offend; nonetheless, these words can hurt the feelings of people using IVF or other infertility treatments. Infertile people who use costly fertility treatments like IVF are just like anyone else who wants to get pregnant and have a baby.

That’s why I believe the best approach is to raise awareness about the language we use to talk about infertility and having children. Raising awareness is always the first step in social change, and must be present before people’s actions change.

What do you think about these sayings? Do you find them offensive, or would they not bother you?

Infographic via: Words That Hurt Infertile People’s Feelings


  1. Silvio says:

    First of all, thanks for getting your attention on this topic. I’d even broad your statement and argue that we should in general take more responsibility for what we are actually saying. Making faux pas is something quite common and I don’t really criticize this, but aren’t most people simply not aware of hurting people mentally (I’d love to get a feedback on this question)? I think every single one of this single on would hurt me in this situation, but on the other hand I think it shouldn’t be narrowed down to just infertile people – it applies to many other abilities and disabilities too.
    Silvio recently posted..How Compliments WorkMy Profile

    • Silvio, I agree that we need to be take more responsibility for our words. I think the first step is raising awareness, and that’s why I made the infographic.

      Re. your question about whether people know they’re hurting other people’s feelings when they make these kinds of statements–I think most people DON’T know. Many people don’t understand what it’s like to have infertility, so they haven’t spent much time thinking about it.
      Abbie Waters recently posted..10 Popular Sayings That Hurt People With Infertility – INFOGRAPHICMy Profile

    • sofie

      I honestly think why dont you just adopt is not offensive. Its a suggestion! there are plenty of kids who are need to be adopted! so i think that should be taken off the list!!!

      • Kelly says:

        The ‘just adopt’ comment is dismissive of the difficulties and struggles (emotional, physical, financial) of infertility. This comment suggests there is a ‘quick fix’ for couples experiencing infertility, and implies that the couple is not informed about their options. Also, while adoption is a wonderful way for many people to become parents, not everyone is eligible/able to adopt. Adoption can be prohibitively expensive, and people with certain medical histories may not be eligible (ie: cancer survivors, and people who have been treated for depression – which, I may add is fairly common in the infertile community).

        I think most often this comment comes from a desire to *help* the infertile couple, but it is in fact hurtful for the reasons mentioned above. If you want to support your infertile friends, one of the best comments is just to say “I’m so sorry, I wish the best for you.”

  2. bloggerkg says:

    There are two phrases that would hurt me.

  3. elaz says:

    some people pass comments that are so insensitive and offensive. as someone who has had first hand contact with an infertile couples ive seen the damage it can cause to beautiful relationships without other people adding on to their already strained relationship. Noone choses to be infertile and for people to pass such comments is down right selfish.

  4. Himanshu says:

    painfull phrases but you can’t ignore these at all. only the person on the receiving end know the difference.
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  5. budwalker says:

    that’s definitely true to bear with …so instead of dragging them down to despair, why not instead give them words of encouragement, right? saying things like that would only make things worse, and we don’t want it to turn that way
    budwalker recently posted..Easy Steps in Living Your Life in the Modern WorldMy Profile

  6. As a women I must say that those word is really hurting women feeling. However I also can’t blame a man when say those things, So discuss with your partner about the problem and if the problem can’t be solved its better to ask help from doctor
    thinninghairwhq recently posted..Biotin Hair Growth – Food Contain BiotinMy Profile

  7. Nipon

    I think these are very commonly used sentences.People should mind whenever they say anything
    Nipon recently posted..Spice C 3300 Price in India Rs 1-500My Profile

  8. Michael Ludgate says:

    Attracted to this blog via comluv front page, but wanted to comment to address what I feel is a slight imbalance.

    My personal views are that with the population in the majority of the world being unsuitable for either the whole or the region in relation to resources, economy, etc. I certainly wouldn’t highlight this to someone currently suffering fertility problems. This is something that needs to be considered by the person and as with many things in life, can’t be taught – only realised.

    It would be interesting to look at the comments for their roots. Generally the comment is as noted faux pas, and guarding against such truisms and rhetoric in speech would greatly benefit the owner of said mouth! While it’s true we generally converse in metaform, sayings and cliché, I believe the real issue is that a commenter feels the need to display both empathy and solution to another’s woes. Whilst it would probably be far greater assistance to listen and wish them either success in goal or finding peace of mind.

    Thanks to Abbie, as I see several sayings that I’d come out with innocently – it’s hard to consistently follow our own beliefs!

  9. psychicjucy says:

    I can see how these phrases could hurt.
    What would be better to say?
    psychicjucy recently posted..Numerology Fun!My Profile

  10. Zorro says:

    The “It’s God’s will” and “just relax” ones really bug me, especially with people who go to the doctor for other stuff!
    Zorro recently posted..Northwestern Men’s Team Captures Gold- Repeat as USACFC National ChampionsMy Profile

  11. Abby and commenters,

    People really don’t know what to say–or not say–when it involves infertility or death (particularly of a child). Some people even say the most inappropriate things to an obviously pregnant woman. When I was pregnant with my first child, several people told me what I called “dead baby stories” about miscarriages and stillbirths. I remember wanting to put my hands over my ears and hum very loudly to drown them out. What were they thinking?

    That’s why posts like this are essential. It would also be helpful to do a follow-up on what to say instead, how to listen and respond in a compassionate way.
    Madeleine Kolb recently posted..Why You Should Take the Diabetes Risk Test NowMy Profile

  12. Poppy says:

    When you are a woman trying to conceive, you are so sensitive to these kinds of phrases. Language is what separates humans from animals, and yet we are often useless at using it. People do need to think before they say anything, but also when something does say something insensitive, they should be challenged.
    Poppy recently posted..Plant Remedies Can HelpMy Profile

  13. karen1573 says:

    I am infertile. I’ve been on the receiving end of all of these, plus some choice others:
    “My friend and her husband had been trying for a baby for 87 years when they gave up, and suddenly she got pregnant and had triplets! So that could easily happen to you!”
    “All you need to do is have sex!” (I couldn’t resist replying, “Oh REALLY? I thought the stork brought them! Have sex, you say – how is that done, exactly?”)
    “It will happen when the time is right!”


    I would like to think that the majority of these comments are down to people just not knowing what to say, so saying the first thing that comes into their head, rather than actually asking themselves “How can I help this person?”
    karen1573 recently posted..MoussakaMy Profile

  14. Tara

    Thanks for this. I agree with you that most often, people want to say something that will encourage make someone feel better – but end up hurting their feelings out of ignorance! It would be great if there was a book with tons of topics, and all the things NOT to say when you encounter someone going through one of them.
    Tara recently posted..Top Ten Things I Needed To Do UpdateMy Profile

  15. Deb says:

    Amen! You said it perfectly! Unless someone has walked the steps of infertility they just do not understand. I think the best thing a friend can do is to simply listen and let us know they care! Blessings!!
    Deb recently posted..A Little Rewrite – A Hammer and NailsMy Profile

  16. Debby says:

    Thank you so much for this list. I will put this list on my facebook. My brother and wife have not been able to have a child and it is hard to know what to say but now I know what not to say.

    Debby recently posted..Orion Jupiter Water IonizerMy Profile

  17. Dan

    Great post – I’ve often found myself holding back these sorts of answers in various situations. The one I think is most difficult to let go of is saying that it’ll be ok, or it will work out somehow.

    What do you propose people say instead? I think something else that would be bad, is to avoid talking about babies or children altogether – oh, and then there’s stopping yourself apologising if you do! A bit of a minefield really…
    Dan recently posted..Finding it Hard to Build Your Self-EsteemMy Profile

  18. colorfulchildhood

    Great post. I agree most of these statements could be offensive. But what is the right thing to say, especially from a person who is blessed with children?
    colorfulchildhood recently posted..Aviation-theme Rooms – Airports- Airplanes- HelicoptersMy Profile

  19. Wigshop

    I truly appreciate you taking the time to help people become aware. I do have two daughters, but there was a time when I had some health issues going on and I thought a second child was going to be out of the question. People asked me all the time what the hold up was with having another baby, and I know they didn’t know my struggle, but it always made me feel a little less than.
    Wigshop recently posted..Shop Talk — Dark GirlsMy Profile

  20. Wigshop

    I truly appreciate you taking the time to help people become aware. I do have two daughters, but there was a time when I had some health issues going on and I thought a second child was going to be out of the question. People asked me all the time what the hold up was with having another baby, and I know they didn’t know my struggle, but it always made me feel a little less than. ~Cris
    Wigshop recently posted..Shop Talk — Dark GirlsMy Profile

  21. Jim Baker

    I think when it comes to the issue of infertility, you always have to be sensitive to their emotions. There are certain quotes there that are just a quick slip of the mouth or just saying it because there’s a perception that there is nothing left better to say
    Jim Baker recently posted..Coleman-750 Road Trip Grill LXEMy Profile

  22. Jackie says:

    What a helpful list. Something to print out and have on file.
    Jackie recently posted..Breast Enhancement Exercise Can Firm And Enlarge BreastsMy Profile

  23. Patrece says:

    People naturally have this soft spot when it comes baby,pregnancy and everyone understand the agony of not having one, so if ever those sayings are said then it must be out of pure concerns or the want to make a person feel better.
    Patrece recently posted..The Art of A Good Photo for an Average Geeks updated Mon Sep 5 2011 4:45 am CDTMy Profile

  24. Elnur says:

    I appreciate Abbie.

    We are married 7 years ago. My spouse had several miscarriages until now. No kids, yet. She always gets upset when asked about kids but only I understand her feelings. The subject you rise is really important. The problem is that some people don’t put themselves on other persons place. I hope they will.
    There is a saying in my country “If your friend walks with a left leg limp, do it by your right”

    Many Thanks!


  1. [...] got so many nice comments from posting my last infographic here on comluv.com I thought I would post this one. (If you would like to publish this infographic [...]

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