top of page

Just relax and it will happen - The most triggering words in infertility

frustrated woman with infertility

This is quite possibly the most commonly offered advice to women experiencing infertility and also the most triggering advice to almost all if not all women who are struggling to conceive. If you have not experienced infertility you may not understand why these words are not only not helpful but actually hurtful. In this article we are going to explore why these words are so commonly offered to women who are trying to get pregnant, why they are so triggering and where the truth lies.

In a study by Alice Domar that was published in 2010 in Infertility and Sterility, researchers compared the stress levels of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments with those of women undergoing treatment for cancer. They found that women undergoing IVF experienced levels of stress similar to or even higher than those experienced by women undergoing cancer treatment. This study shed light on the significant emotional toll that infertility treatments can have on individuals and underscored the need for support and counselling for those going through such experiences.

After only a few months of trying to conceive it is normal for women and men to start experiencing more stress which is likely to continuing increasing the more time goes by without a pregnancy and live birth. There are so many reasons to feel all kinds of hard feelings during infertility including pressure from friends and family members, feeling alone, frustrations navigating the medical system, fears about medical interventions, relationship insecurities, stress about timing of sex, unwanted advice and opinions, shame about feelings of envy and jealousy, confusion and lack of answers, miscarriages, stress about diet and lifestyle changes and more. These feelings can accumulate quickly and many people feel like they don't have anyone to talk to about these struggles or when they do try to talk to someone they are told to "relax and it will happen" or "just stop trying and it will happen" which does nothing to move the energy of the feelings they're experiencing and often shuts down further conversations.

Why are these words so triggering?

Nothing makes a person feel out of control like infertility does. When two people decide they want to have a child it is natural to become attached to that desire. There is an esoteric element to conception as much as there are biological and physiological elements. We learn early that sperm + egg = baby. What does it mean when sperm + egg ≠ baby? Whether there are biological factors such as poor sperm quality or a condition like endometriosis or if there is unexplained infertility, the emotional impact can be profound. It challenges one's sense of agency and can lead to feelings of helplessness and despair.

There is so much that is unseen about reproductive health. There are so many tests to navigate. The process through medical support and options feels slow, especially if the person who is trying to get pregnant feels the pressure of their biological clock ticking or if they have a timeline they are attached to for their family plan. "Trying" is not limited to intercourse only but also includes researching options, the benefits and risks of each option, learning about supplements and natural healing modalities, making appointments with doctors, tracking cycles and more. The learning curve that people undergo (mostly women) is intense and usually lonely. There is always something new to understand and try and a million different contradicting opinions to sort through. The idea of not doing those things is enough to put someone into a panic attack because there is too much at stake, too much to lose. It's terrifying.

What should you say instead?

If someone you are close to opens up to you about their struggles with trying to conceive, take that as a huge compliment. It is an honour to be trusted with such intimate and vulnerable feelings, and it comes with a lot of responsibility. If you follow this advice, not only will you become a trusted space holder for future expressions of feelings, but you also become a pillar of support that significantly reduces the stress of your loved one, which was your original intention.

  1. Don't offer a solution. It's not your job to fix their problem. What they need is a place to release their feelings. You don't have to tell them what they should do. You don't even have to try to make them feel better. Only if they explicitly ask you "do you have any advice?" or "what would you do?" should you offer comfort or advice.

  2. Be comfortable with their discomfort. Let their feelings be as big as they need to be. Listening and showing your empathy with your body language is perfect. Less is more with words in this situation. "That sounds really hard", "It's really unfair" or "I'm so sorry this is so hard for you, I'm so glad you knew you could share it with me." validates their feelings and confirms that they made the right choice to open up to you. When you validate someone's feelings, it allows the energy of those emotions to be released.

  3. Don't try to comfort them with an alternative perspective. It doesn't work and often leaves people feeling even worse. Generally these sentiments begin with the words "At least.." Just don't say anything that starts with at least.

  4. You don't have to understand what they're going through. You definitely shouldn't compare their journey to yours. It is best to simply acknowledge that they're in the mud, whether you get it or not.

Why does everyone feel compelled to say this?

We know there is truth to these words. That doesn't make them helpful. By saying just relax and it will happen, it dismisses all of the fear, the loss of control, all of the frustration and it blames the person who is experiencing infertility for their infertility. These words also oversimplify the problem without offering a real tangible plan or guarantee. It doesn't make logical sense that if someone stopped trying to conceive that it would happen. Does that mean stop having intercourse? What does it mean exactly to "stop trying" or "just relax"? Has someone telling you to "just relax" in an intensely stressful situation ever worked? No.

Stress does disrupt hormones. Fight or flight is the opposite of rest and digest or feed and breed. Nature did design us to not conceive, heal or give birth in very stressful situations. All of this is true. But there is also an esoteric element to this intuitive knowing that we all seem to have about getting pregnant. If I had $100 for every client I've worked with who got pregnant after they surrendered to doing surrogacy, were forced to take a month off of IVF due to scheduling conflicts, got distracted by planning a wedding instead or had the biggest "surrender breakdown", maybe I couldn't retire but I could definitely afford something really nice. It is a real phenomenon and I know most of us have seen it.

In the spiritual world we would attribute this phenomenon to being too attached and that creating a force of resistance in manifestation. It isn't limited to pregnancy alone. The easiest things to manifest are the things we are most aloof about. Any of us can get stuck trying to call something in that we want really bad.

I also attribute it to a reversal of the feminine and masculine roles in a couple who is trying to conceive. The masculine way to manifest is to build it and hunt for it. The masculine goes after it or "tries everything" (does that sound familiar)? The feminine receives what she calls in. She doesn't chase it, it comes to her. She seduces it to her. She gets ready for it but she doesn't chase it. In so many of the clients I have supported over the years the men are much more passive. They wait to be told what to do, literally. They trust the process more often than women. They don't do the research and they have some kind of faith that it will happen. Women take on the intellectual and logical burden, the planning, and the hunting.

Trusting and having faith when you've experienced a long time of longing and loss is very hard. Switching into the feminine is equally as hard, especially with a mate who is in his feminine. But, both are possible. Working with a Holistic Reproductive Practitioner who understands these things is a great way to surrender, heal the underlying traumas and release the fears. Receiving weekly reflexology and Reiki sessions is a wonderful way to receive (feminine) and calm the nervous system to reduce stress and tension. Commanding someone to relax or stop trying won't work. People need support from someone they trust and this work needs to resonate for them to be able to surrender.

Our bodies can heal themselves, even without a diagnosis, even if we don't know what's wrong, if we give it the support it needs to be in a healing state more of the time.

You can book an online session with Michelle or study to become a Certified Holistic Reproductive Practitioner yourself.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page