Say the Right Thing

When a Friend Is Infertile

When Andrea Young, of Richardson, Texas, grappled with infertility she heard all the classics: "Just relax and you'll get pregnant." "My brother's friend's wife took vitamin E and finally got pregnant." "You could always adopt." She got so used to these kinds of comments that she almost became numb to them. "But some really stung, especially ones that implied infertility was a weakness on my part," Young recalls.

If you haven't dealt with infertility, it's hard to understand how consuming and emotionally challenging it can be. Someone who can't conceive often finds it tough to be around pregnant women and new moms -- and her feelings of self-esteem are probably at an all-time low. Infertility can put a strain on a couple's relationship, and the medical treatment itself causes emotional ups and downs. "It's important to be extremely sensitive to how difficult the situation is for your friend," Platt says. If she wants to share details of the ordeal, be available to listen. But if she doesn't offer information, don't pry. Above all, take cues from her about what kind of situations she can -- and can't -- handle.

Don't say...

  • "I just know you're going to get pregnant soon!" Actually, you don't.
  • "That's awful. You must be so depressed." It's presumptuous to assume you know how someone else feels. And a person in crisis doesn't need to be reminded of her pain.
  • "My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant!" Talk about bragging -- and rubbing salt in the wound.

Do say...

  • "I'm so sorry you're going through this. I wish I could help."
  • "I'd love to hear about what's happening, if you feel comfortable talking about it."
  • "Call me anytime if you need to vent."

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