Positive Infertility Language

I recently visited the LDS Church’s adoption website (www.itsaboutlove.org) and noticed a link to “Positive Adoption Language” and was intrigued. When I followed the link, it took me to a chart with two columns: negative terms and preferred terms. The negative terms referenced phrases and words that we commonly use and hear in conversations about adoption. The preferred terms included a list of  alternative ways to communicate similar thoughts in a positive and compassionate way. At the top of the page, it said “The words we use when talking about adoption can send unintended messages. When writing about or discussing adoption, please consider using language from the right-hand column.”

Immediately, I thought “The same is true for infertility!” Sometimes the words we use when we talk about infertility can send unintended messages. These messages can be hurtful and can cause disruption of trusting and positive relationships. I think that we can play a role in helping others recognize ways to be more compassionate through their words.  

So, I need your help. I’d love to see what negative terms and phrases you have heard and then I’d really love to see your suggestions for alternative ways to say the same thing in a compassionate and understanding way.

Community Responses…

Kerstin (me)…

This topic has actually turned out to be quite difficult for me. I found myself coming up with plenty of negative and frustrating things I have heard from others, but for most of them, I could not for the life of me come up with a “preferred” way of saying the same thing. Instead, I found myself thinking “I would just prefer they didn’t say it.” Well, that really isn’t where I wanted this Think & Share to go…rather I wanted a positive and proactive outcome so I went back to the drawing board and came up with a few ideas–one of which I will share.

Relaxing Just Doesn’t Cut It…We’ve all heard it: “Just relax and it will happen” or “Don’t worry so much about it.” I could go on and on about how neither of these provide comfort to me…especially since no amount of relaxing or stress-relieving will remedy my infertility. To me, a preferred way to say the same thing would be “I bet infertility is very stressful to deal with, I am sorry you have to deal with it.”


Focus on Hoping…A small shift in language that has helped me is letting others know we are “hoping” for a baby rather than “trying” for one.  To me, “trying” sounds so … trying! It doesn’t show my positive intentions, that I have hope and faith in God’s plan for me, whatever that ends up being.  So when someone asks if we are “trying to have a baby,” or “how long have you been trying,” I remember to smile and say, “we’re hoping to have more children” or “we’ve been hoping for a long time.”


“I’ll Pray For You”…One phrase that came to mind is the comment “It will happen or work out for you sometime.”  This is a difficult phrase to hear because it does not validate or comfort the current feelings of loss.  Nor does it address the very real issue that getting pregnant may not actually become a reality.  Better phrases to say/hear would be “I really hope you’ll be able to have children” or “I’ll pray for you.”


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  • Heather

    One of the most hurtful “well intentioned” pieces of advice I got from a ward member broke my heart in two. This brother and his wife had been hoping to expand their family for about 4 months when they decided to fast and pray about their situation. Not long after they conceived and are now parents to a beautiful boy. This brother (who was the EQP at the time) told my husband that all week needed to do was fast and pray and it would happen. First of all he had no business commenting on our situation, but we knew he was trying to be helpful. At the time it had been 2 years of hoping, praying and fasting for a child. (It’s now been 3 1/2) I would rather someone say, “You’re being faithful, and you’re doing all that our Father in Heaven has asked of you. Keep doing that.” That phrase may not solve all the problems but at least it would acknowledge that we are trying to be faithful and stay close to the Lord. The brother made me feel as if I had never thought to seek Him in this experience.

    • I understand completely on this, sadly this issue was a huge reason I have become inactive. I got to the point where I felt like no matter what I had did or was currently doing was good enough. I just because so frustrated I gave up. I’m finally starting to come to a point now where I understand our infertility isn’t a punishment for not being “good enough”, it’s just something that has happened medically. Which I think for right now is good enough.

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