Thursday, April 28, 2011

Frankie Says Relax

Stop thinking about it.

Go on vacation.

You're stressing too much.

You need to relax.

This is the cliche advice that infertiles get bombasted with time and time again.  Usually the advice comes from well meaning friends, family, and acquaintances who don't quite know what else to say.

For National Infertility Awareness Week, Resolve put forth the challenge to the blogging community to bust a myth about infertility.

Myth: If you just relax, you will get pregnant.

Truth: 90% of infertility cases are caused by physical problems.  There has never been a study which shows that simply relaxing increases pregnancy rates.

Dr. Love and I kicked off our TTC journey on vacation.  We have taken several more trips since then.
----We're still not pregnant----

I get regular back massages from Dr. Love, and being that he's a D.O. he gives really good massages.
----I can count the number of times I've ovulated in the last year on one hand.----

Of the two of us, I definitely have less stress in my life.
----Our problems have nothing to do with Dr. Love's bits----

My point is relaxing has nothing to do with the causes of infertility and simply telling someone that they have essentially brought this on themselves by being too stressed trivializes the real medical issues at hand.  In our case we are dealing with PCOS but women can face other issues such as blocked fallopian tubes, uterus abnormalities, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders just to name a few.  Male partners can have issues with sperm production including too few sperm, sperm which can’t swim correctly, or abnormally shaped sperm.  None of these issues can be rectified with pina colada and a day on the beach.  Yet one of the most common pieces of "advice" given to infertiles is "just relax."

I understand that until you have experience of some sort with infertility, whether it be first hand or from friends/family members, it is difficult to know what to say when you're talking to someone who is freaking out about a bad diagnosis/another failed cycle/18 year old Cousin Jane getting knocked up by her loser boyfriend/the side effects of the hormone cocktail she's been chugging for the last week.  The process of dealing with infertility is stressful and for that reason we DO need to relax.  I need to relax in order to stay sane and function in the face of everything we're going through, but this relaxation will not get me pregnant.

Even the Onion realizes this....

Click image to enlarge or  here for source

So I imagine you're wondering,  if "relax" is an infertility taboo, what should someone say instead?

Glad you asked.  Resolve has some great resources for friends and family, and tips on infertility etiquette.  Ultimately it boils down to tell us you care, let us cry/scream/vent, support us in the difficult decisions we're faced with in treatment.  Don't try to minimize our grief, our struggle, our pain, our medical issues by suggesting that we have brought this on ourselves.


  1. I can't stand it when people tell me to "relax, it will happen" Grrrr!

  2. Great myth busting! This is the most frustrating thing. Even my freaking dr said, "ya know, nursing school is stressful so maybe when you graduate and are less stressed you'll have better chances." I had to restrain myself from screaming "if only these problems were as recent as my admittance to nursing school" and leave in a huff, but I didn't and just rolled my eyes and sighed to myself. That's what I get for seeing an OB instead of driving 3 hours each way to the nearest RE. Hope you're having a wonderful week spreading awareness!

  3. This thing drove me crazy on one of my monthly Facebook vents a few months ago (which was my fault for venting publicly I suppose) when finally saying that I was going to try not to stress out about my IF because it is SO EMOTIONALLY DRAINING! I had HAD it that month, and was tired of being disappointed month after month. One of the comments I got back was something to the effect of,"Yeah, Pam. Just leave it ALL in God's hands...they say when you stop trying, that's when you get pregnant. That happened for my friend. But of course, I've never tried to get pregnant, so I don't know." Those were my thoughts exactly...she's never tried, so she DOESN'T know! (And honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this particular friend HAS PCOS and just doesn't know it since she is single and not trying to conceive). I just responded something like,"While I know it is all ultimately in God's hands in how we will end up having a family, if I want to get pregnant myself, unfortunately I CAN'T leave it ALL in his hands, because my body requires medical help to ovulate. So all I can do is go through the motions of doing the things I need to do and when I need to do them, and THEN say, OK God, it's in YOUR hands now, and try not to stress in the waiting, or the ultimate outcome." I hate the idea that our bodies will suddenly work correctly if we are sitting on a beach somewhere...

    Love that Onion article, BTW :)


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