5 Things NOT to Say to A Woman Who’s Trying to Get Pregnant

As an OB/GYN who struggled with infertility, I’m all too aware of the well-meaning “comforts” friends and family will sometimes say to someone who is having difficulty getting pregnant.  I say “well-meaning” because they usually are—but dang! They usually cut deep and can leave a woman who’s already feeling inadequate because of infertility feel even worse. This week is National Fertility Awareness Week, and my blog post this week is in honor of all of us girls who heard far too many pointed, personal questions from our loved ones.

  1. Maybe you’re just too stressed. Um, well, yes! I am stressed, thank you for acknowledging that. When you’re busy working full time, trying to time the optimal days for ovulation and then waiting with baited breath hoping Aunt Flo doesn’t come, who wouldn’t be stressed? I’m dealing with it the best I can. Self-care during this time is essential—a yoga class, a long run, massage, or just journaling. But I don’t need people constantly reminding me about my stress levels. For me personally, my favorite retort to these types was “Hey, when was your last pap smear?” That usually caused them to run the other direction. Wink.


  1. Are you having sex? What? WHAT? I have to have sex to get pregnant? This feels like this conversation is getting fairly private and invasive. My sex life is what it needs to be right now. Thank you very much. When did couples TTC (trying to conceive) become the new public fodder? Is this what the Kardashians have done to us?   Must I make a sex tape to prove that this step is in the works? I do get that is how babies are made. We can thank Mrs. Pugh in my 6th-grade health class for beating that point home. ‘Nuf said.


  1. You’re young. You’ve got all the time in the world. Sadly, I didn’t hear this comment as much, but I have patients who get this all the time. Age is a state of mind, but in the world of fertility a woman’s time clock is beating hard against that concept. When you’ve been buying ovulation predictor kits in bulk from Costco, trust me, time isn’t your friend. Most women who are TTC have an enhanced awareness of how time passes us by. And while the “young” comments are appreciated when we’re 40, it’s downright paternalizing at any other age. If a woman can be a CEO at 25, she can be a mother at any age. We want what we want.


  1. You can always adopt! Well, yes. We’ve all heard that. And for some of us, that may be a viable option. But a lot of us yearn for our own And adoption is expensive, like really, really “J. Lo” expensive. Foreign adoptions can cost upwards of $100,000 but can be quicker. U.S. adoption can range from $20-40K, but there’s no guarantee. Most women elect this as a last resort if they really want their own genetic offspring. Adoption is beautiful and admirable but not something every woman who’s infertile wants to hear.


  1. My cousin Jenny tried “Fill in the blanks with something crazy!” Oh yes. The feng shui counselor. And the shaman from the West Indies. And keeping the space below the bed clean and free of boxes and such to avoid “energy blocks.” Trust me, my sisters. I’ve tried a whole bunch of things. But please don’t entice me to spend more money on another jade dragon when I’ve got three at home I don’t know what to do with. I’ll stick with the things I know make me feel good—like meditation, yoga and eating a good clean diet. But chances are, Jenny got pregnant when she did because she did. Not because she ate yak’s blood cheese for 3 months straight. But thanks for another thought that will stick in my head for the next two weeks. Wonder where I can get yak’s blood online? I bet Amazon…


For those of us dealing with the assault of these comments, the best thing to do is smile, and stay your own course. You know what’s right for your body. Desperation won’t help. Neither will yak’s blood.

–Dr. Heather Bartos

5 Fertility Questions to Start Asking

As an OB/GYN who also experienced infertility (6 IVF cycles!), I’ve done my fair share of asking questions on both sides of the exam table.  These are my recommendations for questions every woman desiring to get pregnant (and having trouble doing so) should #startasking.  No rough, paper gown required.


  1. Start by asking your partner how far they’re willing to go. You’d be surprised how many couples are at the “next step” and the wife says “we’ll go all the way to IVF/ICSI” and the husband says, “No, I’m opposed to that.”  So ask each other the tough questions:  are you ok with sperm donation, egg donation, IVF, any intervention at all?  What will we do with frozen embryos that are left over? It’s a tough conversation to have but one that will prevent marital discord later down the road.
  2. Start asking your insurance if they cover any infertility services. Some do, some don’t. Some cover diagnostic tests, but not treatment. Some cover the whole dealio. Don’t pay for things you don’t need to pay for, but set aside funds for things insurance won’t cover. It’s not sexy, but it’s an hour well spent.
  3. Start asking your doctor for all your check-up needs. Is your Pap up to date? Has he been to the doctor in the past 5 years? Everyone needs—and deserves—a health exam.  For women, ask for extra lab tests that may help prevent further issues—cystic fibrosis, for example, or rubella (measles) status. Just because you were immunized in the past doesn’t mean you’re still immune. And start asking your doctor when it’s time to go to the next step if sex alone isn’t getting you pregnant!
  4. Start asking for the OFF spray. That’s right, ladies.  Zika virus (transmitted by mosquitoes) is now a threat. And it affects sadly the very population that is most vulnerable—pregnant women. Think about ladies in South America that are being asked not to even get pregnant right now! So just get yourself some DEET-containing spray and use it ask dawn and dusk. Have that handsome burly man of yours clean out the garage and backyard of any standing water. Women around the country are at risk, but women on the Gulf Coast are at the highest risk right now.
  5. And, all ladies! Start asking for sex at times when it’s not “the right time” or you’re ovulating or about to. Sex is still for pleasure and affection between partners. During times of infertility, it becomes very easy to forget that and essentially use him for stud services. He’ll start to feel used (I know, whoever thought a man would complain but he will!). Start asking for a date night and some “romance”. Sex cures a myriad of things besides infertility—a gloomy mood, stress, and distance between partners. So, start asking!