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#NIAW Hurtful Judgments and Dumb Advice

NIAWby Deborah Simmons, PhD, LMFT

To start my blogging for National Infertility Awareness Week (April 21-27, 2013), I thought I’d start with some information for people who may not know much about infertility. Did you know that one out of every 10 couples or more than six million people in the United States struggle with infertility? That’s right. Infertility is a medical problem and it is not rare. You probably know someone who is having a hard time trying to have a baby.

And it’s not just women who have problems with their fertility. Fertility problems are split evenly between female factor (40%) and male factor (40%) problems and 10% of the time, both partners in a couple have a separate, identifiable diagnosis.  Finally, 10% of all couples will have unexplained fertility problems and may never get a diagnosis.

Multiple doctor appointments, giving and receiving injections, and repeated miscarriages are hard.  But you know what’s really hard for people to take, on top of medical treatment for infertility?  Hurtful judgments and dumb advice.  It often goes like this:

    • Just relax and you’ll get pregnant.
    • You’re trying too hard.
    • God has a plan for you.
    • Just go on vacation.
    • You can always adopt.
    • You can have one of my babies.
    • You’re too obsessed about infertility. Just lighten up.
    • It’s just a baby shower.

My request to people who say these things? Please stop. Stop making judgments. Listen rather than offering advice. Ask questions. Offer to help in some way. Most of all, show some compassion—for your neighbor, or your cousin, or your colleague at work. It’s National Infertility Awareness Week.