How to Keep Your Infertile Loved Ones From Wanting to Punch You in the Face

Five things to avoid saying to someone who is struggling with infertility (and five things to do instead, with cinematic accompaniment).
Publish date:
July 15, 2015
pregnancy, fertility, ivf, infertility

One in 8 women suffer from infertility, which means that you probably know someone who is struggling to conceive a child. But even though so many women are dealing with infertility most of them feel like everyone else on the planet is a fertile as the Duggar family. You want to help, and you would like to avoid saying something that will make your loved one want to punch you in the face. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Don’t Tell Her to Relax

Unless you are a yoga instructor and she has signed up to take your Yoga for Relaxation class, your admonition will cause her to want to punch you in the face, along with the faces of any yoga instructors she happens to come across.

2. Don’t Ask Her Why She Doesn’t Just Adopt

Adoption agencies don’t actually hand over babies to just anyone. The cost of international adoption is between $30,000 and $40,000, and the application process and homestudy are no joke. And there are no guarantees that domestic adoption will be less expensive or any easier.

3. Don’t Ask Her Why She Doesn’t Just Do IVF

IVF is not for everyone. It is expensive, and involves a lot of needles and hormones, many of which can make her want to punch innocent bystanders in the face, or rock them back and forth while singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. IVF can also cost tens of thousands of dollars, and again, may not result in a baby.

4. Don’t Tell Her to Get Acupuncture/Take Herbs/ See a Shaman

She has access to the Internet. She knows that these are options, and has likely already found a shaman who is also an acupuncturist and herbalist and yoga teacher. With luck, she has not yet punched this person in the face or tried to rock them back and forth while singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

5. Don’t Offer Her One of Your Children as a Joke

This is just rubbing in the fact that you have children to spare. And there is no guarantee she will not try to take you up on your offer and then, when you decline, punch you in the face.

Five things to do instead:

1. Take her to see Magic Mike XXL

Infertility treatments, and even an infertility diagnosis, can kill your sex drive. Seeing Joe Mangianello on the big screen can remind your infertile loved one that even Sofia Vergara decided to use assisted reproduction. And who doesn’t enjoy a good dance movie?

2. Offer to play doctor, or, more accurately, nurse

If your loved one is engaging in assisted reproduction, she may need to do a number of shots. (Note to reader: Hormones, not vodka). Many of the shots can be given in the abdomen, but some have to be given in the posterior, which is almost impossible for most women, unless they are super flexible, which they might might be if they have taken several years of Yoga for Relaxation before developing the desire to punch innocent bystanders in the face.

Your loved one’s partner may take on this task, but if he or she is squeamish or nonexistent, you can offer to help. If you are squeamish, offer to collect all the Youtube videos about how to mix all the powders and liquids—there are usually several videos per drug—in one email. Then congratulate yourselves by watching the heroin addicts in the movie Trainspotting make needles look so fun!

3. Make a care package

If your loved one is giving herself shots, make her a beautiful box in which to keep all of her needles and syringes. Stock it with an icepack, bandages and alcohol wipes. And whether or not she is giving herself shots, give her an excellent pair of socks she can wear during all those transvaginal ultrasounds.

If you have the skills, feel free to embroider the words “Dear Doctor/Ultrasound Tech, Please Put Me at Ease by Describing My Vagina and Uterus using only the characters from Game of Thrones.”

4. Help raise money

Neither adoption nor infertility treatment are free. If your loved one is game, consider setting up a funding page for her on Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Rent Raising Arizona to remind yourselves why stealing children, even if quintuplets, is not a good option.

5. Send fertile thoughts

You may be annoyed by the fact that your loved one might be annoyed by the preceding statements. How are you supposed to come up with something that is supportive now that you know that so many things make your infertile loved one upset? Well, there is an actual blanket statement of support that women say to each other on the infertility boards. When in doubt, just say, “I’m sending fertile thoughts,” and relieve your infertile loved one of the burden of wanting to punch you in the face.