“Are you going to have children? Are you trying?”
Strangers, colleagues, friends and family alike seem to find the question of starting a family irresistible, despite the fact it’s highly personal.
And in revealing she’s suffered several miscarriages, actor Gabrielle Union, has pointed out exactly why such people shouldn’t be so flippant about the subject.
Whether those asking are making assumptions based on age or relationship status, or you simply turned down a glass of wine, it’s an intrusive question for anyone – and for those with fertility problems, it can be extremely painful.
Speaking to promote the release of her memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine, Union explains to People magazine: “For so many women, and not just women in the spotlight, people feel very entitled to know, ‘Do you want kids?’
“A lot of people, especially people that have fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause.”
In a book excerpt released to the magazine, Union discusses the often-exhausting process of trying to conceive, especially when using IVF, and describes herself as feeling like a “prisoner”.
“For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant – I’ve either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle, or coming out of an IVF cycle.”
Union, married to basketball player Dwyane Wade, says the couple have gone through “eight or nine miscarriages” and she’s previously spoken about the common misconception that women who have problems conceiving must have focused too much on their careers or ‘left it too late’.
In 2015, she told Redbook: “There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”
In another interview, she said: “I think TV shows and film kind of make [out that] the frigid, you know, single-focused career woman, that her career is the root of all of the problems in her life.
“Can’t find a man, it’s the career. Marriage falls apart, it’s the career! […] and that’s just not the case.”
Saying she wanted to “shed a little light” on fertility, she added: “If you happen to have issues with fertility as you’ve gotten older and you happen to have a career, all is not lost […] there are so many options, and you’re not alone.”
Image: Rex Features