“Just relax!” What NOT to say to infertile couples!

April 24-April 30, 2011 is National Infertility Awareness Week and I’ll be busting the infertility myth: If you just relax, you will get pregnant!
(Find my submission link here.)

"Just relax" Infertility Myth BUSTED

You’re having trouble getting pregnant? That’s any easy one…just relax.


Very few people are setting out to purposely offend or hurt the feelings of people who are having trouble conceiving, yet they don’t understand that this is one of the absolute most insensitive things that they can say. Whether a couple has been trying 3 months or 3 years…don’t tell them to relax! Even if they handle it with grace I can tell you with certainty that it hurt them, or at the very least, annoyed them.

Before we got pregnant the first time we had been “trying” for 4 ½ years. Although I was aware of the fact that we weren’t getting pregnant it wasn’t something that I continuously thought about or worried about. It wasn’t until about 2 years in that I really started to become concerned…and sad. When we conceived our first child and later that same year, our daughter, I can guarantee you that we were not anymore relaxed at the time than we had been previously. In fact we were certainly much more stressed out then we were at the beginning of the journey 4 ½ years prior. If all that I needed to do was to relax and not think about it…then we would’ve gotten pregnant right away. Everyone would, right? Because most people don’t start trying thinking, “This isn’t going to work. Something’s wrong.” It usually takes at least a few months of trying before you start to think something is wrong.

Stress certainly doesn’t help infertility and it’s true that it can make things worse. Even if you truly think they need to relax…don’t say it! Think about it. When has there ever been a situation where you told a person to relax or calm down and they said, “Gee, thanks, I never thought of that before. Wow, I feel better.” I would guess never. Infertility aside, whenever my husband tells me to relax or calm down he knows there’ll be a remote control hurling towards his head. It’s something he never says to me anymore. If you really think that relaxing will help…then show them, don’t tell them. Pay for them to have a massage, clean up their house, take them some nice meals, give them some relaxing music to listen to…but please, don’t ever tell them to “just relax”!

It’s hard to relax when you’re alone in the bathroom staring at the blood on your panties for yet another month. It’s hard to relax when you only see one line…again. It’s hard to relax when your feet are in stirrups for yet another test. It’s hard to relax when another Mother’s Day comes and goes. It’s hard to relax when you get another invitation to a baby shower. It’s hard to relax when everywhere you turn you’re met by a rounded belly or table of tiny onesies. It’s hard to relax when people younger than you and older than you and fatter than you and thinner than you and sicker than you and healthier than you are all getting pregnant and you’re not.

Do you know what else makes it difficult to relax? People that don’t understand what you’re going through. People that have the best intentions but say insensitive things in their ignorance. People that don’t know what to say, so they say the wrong thing. People that would rather hear themselves giving you unsolicited advice rather than listen to you try to explain your pain. People who don’t stop and think before they speak.

“Just relax” has a twin…“You’re trying too hard.”
What does that even mean? Exactly what is the definition of “trying too hard”?
Is it having ridiculous amounts of s-x? Because I guarantee you that there are many people out there (who aren’t even trying to get pregnant) that are having way more s-x than me! Is it charting basal body temperatures? I’ve never charted my temps. Not even once. Is it obsessively taking ovulation tests? In the 5 years of my life that I’ve spent trying to get pregnant I’ve probably only taken about 5 ovulation tests. That’s only one a year…hardly excessive. Is it tracking your cycle on a calendar? Many women track their periods…some for pregnancy prevention as much as the opposite. Even without it, it only takes a little math to figure out when you’re supposed to ovulate…so as long as you’re aware that you started your period (and come on…who isn’t?), then you can still track your ovulation.
So what exactly is it that we’re doing that is “trying to hard”?! Nothing. Yet it doesn’t stop people from telling me that.

So what can you say to someone who’s having trouble conceiving?
“I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I’ll be praying for you. I’ll be here for you if you need anything.”
That’s it. Simple, honest, to the point. No unsolicited advice, no “it’ll happen” promises, no insensitive remarks. Just let them know that you can see that they are hurting and that you are hurting with them.

If someone close to you is struggling to conceive, I urge you to educate yourself on infertility, the tests, the problems, the treatments (What is infertility?) . This will make it easier to understand what your loved one is talking about and hopefully help you to relate to their situation a little better.

If you are struggling to conceive and are being met with insensitive comments…just relax and take a deep breath and think twice before you haul off and hit them ;).



Read The Short Version of our infertility story, or for the whole story read:
*Part 1: Trying to Conceive: Take 1
*Part 2: My First Pregnancy
*Part 3: My Miscarriage
*Part 4: Trying to Conceive: Take 2
*Part 5: Trying to Conceive: Take 3 Secondary Infertility
*National Infertility Awareness Week
*Childless Mother: Infertility Poem
*Spring Ahead: Reflections on Miscarriage
*Celebrate Your Name Week: Jordan: Why we named the baby we miscarried


Posted on April 30, 2011, in Infertility and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Blerg. “Just relax.” I hate that advice for any problem. I always find it patronizing, as if you and your concern over your situation is a cause. Grrrr. I’ve had a lot of friends who have struggled with infertility and I don’t know what to say, but I am a good listener. I always try to take that approach when I’m at a loss for words, focus my attention on the person. I’m so happy that there is an infertility awareness week. The more people who know about it, the better the support that can be given.


  1. Pingback: Don’t Ignore the Signs of Infertility: What to do if you think you’re infertile | Coolest Family on the Block

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