Is It Any of Your Business? Insensitive Questions for the Infertile
Insensitive Questions for the Infertile
You want a baby. It’s not happening quickly or easily. You realize that you may be infertile. You may need fertility treatment. You are getting asked questions that make you uncomfortable.
There are questions that should be asked and answered. And there are questions that should not be asked and should be answered, but maybe not in the way that you might think.
Here’s a list of questions that I believe an Obstetrician/Gynecologist should ask you:
- Are you planning or hoping to have children?
- Do you realize that it could be more difficult past the age of 35?
- Would you like to have your AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels tested to see a baseline of what your fertility potential might be?
- Is there anything I can answer about you having a baby?
Please note. Those four questions were prefaced with, “questions an Obstetrician/Gynecologist (Ob/Gyn) should ask you". If you do not see an Ob/Gyn, then a primary care physician should ask you these questions.
Why are you asking or how is it any of your business?
Here’s a short list of people who should not be asking you these questions and to whom, I would hope, you would not feel even remotely obligated to answer.
- The person standing behind you on the supermarket line
- Your second cousin, once removed, who you see every other year
- A work colleague with whom you have no relationship
Here’s a list of people who may ask you the question and to whom you can answer the question if you feel like continuing a conversation with them regarding your family building.
- Your parents or other family members
- Your friends
- Close work colleagues
If you think that having children is something you might like in your life, these are important questions. They are questions designed to make you more educated and therefore empowered to make choices that you will not have to second guess or have regrets about.
Here is a list of questions that could easily come under the category, “None of your business” or even, “why would you possibly ask me such a personal question?” or possibly “you’ve got a lot of nerve to ask me a question like that”. These are questions that no one has the right or the need to ask you or know. Keep in mind, this is a very abbreviated list; there are so many more questions that you may be asked that do not appear here.
Conversation Openers or Closers? Consider the Source
If however, they are being asked by someone you are close to, maybe these are conversation openers, not closers. Consider the source. Decide whether the person who is asking may have something to contribute to the struggle you are going through.
- When are you having children?
- Why haven’t you had children yet?
- What are you waiting for?
- Don’t you want to have children?
- Don’t you think it’s selfish not to have a brother/sister for your child? (Secondary infertility)
- You do realize at your age it will be very difficult to have children, don’t you?
- If you had wanted children, you should have started a lot earlier. (Variations, “you should have put children ahead of your career,” “you should have stayed married,” “you should have settled down sooner”.)
- When should we expect your good news?
- Don’t you want to have babies while you’re young enough to enjoy them?
- Could you have your babies soon enough so that I can enjoy them? (From older family members.)
Not every question needs to be answered. Not every question should be asked but often is anyway.
Good responses? What do you think?
What are questions that you have been asked that you are thrown by? What is the best and the worst question you have been asked?
Responses most welcome! I will compile a list and publish it next week. No names will be used.
Thanks in advance for your help!
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About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.