Should is a dirty word when talking fertility

Should is unhelpful and comes from a judgmental place; it is a projection of what other people want us to do, or what we think we are supposed to be doing based on outside pressures that we have internalised. 

It is rooted in guilt.

We come across so many should’s when faced with fertility issues.

For example. ‘I should buy ovulation sticks so that I can track when I am ovulating’

Staying with the ovulation kit example, the reason many women might not buy ovulation kits to track their cycle is because they don’t want to add pressure to an already stressful time in their life.

To be presented with an upside down smile on a stick that you pee on every day can be disheartening and make you feel like a failure. It can be self sabotaging.

Let’s face it, the reasons for using or not using ovulation kits are personal. Some women or couples might not be able to spend money on ovulation kits which start at £5, some might already be able to identify when they’re ovulating through cramps and or tracking their cervical fluid. 

The person who might not want to use an ovulation kit, yet feels that they should, feels guilt.

Why do we use Should?

Still the ovulation kit example here: Perhaps somebody you read about in a fertility book used one, or friends have bought them, you might even have seen adverts. The ideas come from around us in society and we store them subconsciously.

These ideas that are now internalised make us feel like we aren’t doing our best or that we aren’t doing enough. 

Other shoulds might be: “I should be eating healthier.”, “I should stop drinking.”, “I should try acupuncture”.

We store these ideas and measure ourself against these. 

One woman might hate the idea of acupuncture, but because she heard a story about a friend of her Mum’s who swore acupuncture helped her to conceive she may feel like she should be doing the same. That pressure has become internalised.

When others use should

No-one has any business in telling us what to do, especially when it comes to our personal experiences with infertility, and the same works the other way. It’s judgmental and critical. Shoulds can even send us into rebellion mode like 14 year olds who are told “your skirt should be knee length.”. Cue the attitude , eye rolls and a dislike for this adult who challenged their personal identity. 

“You shouldn’t have had that glass of wine- alcohol is no good when you’re trying to conceive”.


“You should have a glass of wine to help you relax”


“You should try eating more vegetables and avoiding sugar”

Responding to should

The responses below allow the person who has used the should against you time to register that they have overstepped; it informs them that they are being judgmental and that this hasn’t gone unnoticed.

1) Smile and don’t say anything.

A less confrontational approach but the silence here really does speak loudly. 


2) “You think…”

“You think I shouldn’t drink a glass of wine.”


“You think a glass of wine would help me to relax.”


“You think I should be eating more vegetables and avoiding sugar.”

This is a good tactic as it reminds you that this isn’t YOUR guilt to own and it also informs the person who has said it that THEY have overstepped the mark.

(Taken from ‘Your erroneous Zones by Wayner Dyer)

Could instead of should

Could adds possibility and option to our internal dialogue.


It tastes better.


We can reframe how we view the circumstance in hand now that there is less internalised pressure.

“I should go for a walk as I haven’t left the house today.” becomes “I could go for a walk as I haven’t left the house today.”.


“I should return my friend’s calls.” becomes “I could return my friend’s calls.”.

Moving forward

Whoever it is that hands you a dodgy cocktail of advice, there is always a choice on your part whether you drink it or not.