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08th Dec 2023

Research reveals what questions you should never ask a woman

Sometimes curiosity shouldn't get the better of us.

Jody Coffey


If you’ve ever felt a pang of shame, frustration, or even anger from an untoward question about your personal life or body, you are certainly not alone.

The female body is an enigma, even to women, so it makes sense that people from all walks of life would be inquisitive about it, even if it borders on rude or outright crosses a boundary.

Similarly, questions about the innermost details of a woman’s personal life or comparing their journey to societal expectations should also be left a couple of hundred years in the past.

Most of the time, it’s completely out of curiosity, with no harm meant. However, it pays to know that some questions should be kept to ourselves, or for Google at the very least.

Credit: Getty

A new piece of research, published by Peanut, an online community for women at every stage of the fertility journey, from pregnancy to motherhood to menopause, outlined the unwanted questions everyone should avoid asking.

The data was collected by Peanut in September 2023 by surveying 3615 women.

Often, these questions are asked without the intent of causing awkwardness or embarrassment, or on occasions when people are catching up for the first time in a long time.

These range from the usual suspects – ‘Are you married,’ ‘When are you going to have kids?’ ‘Was it planned?’ – to interrogation that can turn an entire room silent – questions such as ‘When are you going to give him a baby?’ ‘Why hasn’t he/they proposed yet?’ or asking to hear details of a birth story.

Other anxiety-inducing contenders include: ‘Why do you look like that?’ ‘Can I play with the baby?’ ‘Are you sure it’s not twins?’ or ‘Has your husband/partner been babysitting?’

Sadly, inappropriate questions about miscarriages, breastfeeding, and baby care that also upset women also land on the list.

The report, entitled ‘The State of Invisibility’, suggests that any questions about a woman’s relationship, fertility, pregnancy, motherhood, or menopause should be open-ended and framed more positively than the aforementioned.

These questions should be free from placing blame, guilt, or judgment.

Credit: Getty

For example, well-intentioned questions such as ‘How’s the baby bump?’, ‘Are you hormonal?’ and ‘How do you do it all?’ can be reframed to sound like ‘How are you?’, ‘What is making you feel upset? and ‘How is the mental load?’

According to clinical psychologist, Peanut’s Dr Rachel, being mindful of language is key.

“We never know what anyone is going through unless they tell us, and this is why we need to be mindful of our language. We need to not make assumptions, or even use language that seems like we are making assumptions. and instead show care, and ask questions in a compassionate way.

“Asking open-ended questions allows the individual to respond as they want to and not feel pressure to answer in a certain way.

“We must take the time to actually hear their response and further, acknowledge that not everyone wants to share everything, or is ready to share, and that needs to be OK.”

Research like this helps women to curate a world where societal expectations and stigma don’t weigh heavy on their hearts and educates us all to do better for the next generation of females.