After Hysterectomy: How Do I Respond to Baby Inquiries?

Although a hysterectomy may give you a new lease on life, it ends your ability to conceive. That trade off isn’t always welcome and can cause grief and emptiness.

Even if you were not childless before your hysterectomy, losing your fertility can be a heart-breaking experience that you may not want to share with the world at large. When you are asked about having a baby, it can open those old wounds and leave you hurting and tongue tied, unable to think of a good answer without sharing personal information.

More than likely, the individuals asking aren’t meaning to cause you pain. They may be making conversation, not realizing that for you it’s a private and personal matter. Some people are more open than others about various topics, so they may not realize the topic is a sensitive one. They may be also asking as they enjoy being a parent so they assume everyone else will, too. Your grandmother, aunt, sister-in-law, or other relatives may be asking as they love you and hoped there would be a little version of you they could also enjoy.

So as hurtful as it can be, try not to take it personal. They are coming from a perspective of what they know. They haven’t walked in your shoes and may not realize they’ve crossed a line. They may simply be trying to make conversation and reach out a bit, unaware of how sensitive the subject is for you.

And remember, even if it seems those around you don’t understand, your HysterSisters do. They, too, have been asked by family, friends, co-workers, and strangers about when they are going to have a baby and start a family. They understand the brokenness and stages of grief you may be experiencing.

Below are some of their suggestions for answering those uncomfortable and personal questions. Their suggestion is to find a response that you can be comfortable with. It doesn’t matter whether you make one up or borrow and adapt one from your HysterSisters, as long as you can say it confidently and make it clear that the subject is going to be changed.

Give a standard reply:

We haven’t been blessed.

That’s not God’s plan for us.

That’s a personal decision between me and my husband.

It just didn’t work out for us to birth any babies, and it’s difficult for me to talk about.

Things don’t always go according to plans.

That isn’t really something I can discuss right now.

Maybe we’ll be like Sarah and Abraham and have one in our later years.

My husband and I are unable to conceive due to medical issues. We are happy there are other options available should we decide to become parents in the future. For now, our lives are full with each another.

That’s a very personal question that I would rather not discuss.

If you’ll forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking.

Redirect the conversation:

Redirecting the conversation can take the focus off of you and the personal topic. Try following your reply with a question about the event you are attending, the weather, or something about the other person – anything to move the conversation smoothly to a new topic.

Today is about (insert event you are attending), so I’d rather not discuss it. Aren’t the decorations beautiful? What do you think of these appetizers?

My husband and I are not starting a family. Have you heard from Aunt Bertha lately?

I’m not having children. What do you think of this weather we are having?

I am not planning to have a baby. How is your job these days?

Use humor:

Using humor can redirect the conversation and move the topic to a lighter subject. If you use a reply including houseplants or fur babies, you can then redirect by starting to discuss them in detail and then asking the individuals if they have plants or pets, too. It can also be helpful to have photos handy in your purse or on your phone that you can whip out and start sharing.

I am really sorry that I cannot contribute to the gene pool. This world will surely be very lonely without another person like me.

I’d rather borrow someone’s children. Then I can have all the fun spoiling them rotten without having the all the responsibilities of parenting.

Goodness, no, I am not having children. My cat (or dog) would have a fit!

No kids, but I have a lot of houseplants!

We are only having the four legged kind and, wow, are they ever a handful!

You can also reply with, “Why do you want to know?” If they say, “Oh, I’m just curious,” you can answer, “You know, that’s a very personal question and it’s between me, my husband, and God.” Then reply with a redirecting comment about the event, weather, job, vacation, etc. If they persist, just calmly repeat the above statement. After the fourth or fifth time, they’ll figure out that you’re not going to discuss the topic with them.

Close the door to more why questions:

Answering with a simple, “We can’t have children,” may open the door to questions about why not, something you may not be willing to share. So some HysterSisters suggest closing the door before it’s open. In other words, add a discussion stopper to your statement if you don’t wish to give any details.

We aren’t having children, and it’s a personal subject I’d rather not discuss.

We can’t have children. I’ve had a hysterectomy for health reasons and would rather not discuss this private topic.

We are infertile, but I’d rather not discuss the details.

Let’s change the subject, please.

You don’t have to share anything personal with anyone, so having a go-to reply or retort memorized can help deflect the questions and remove yourself from the hurtful topic in a mature and classy manner.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: After Hysterectomy: How Do I Respond to Baby Inquiries?


Viktor Gladkov/

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