Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant or stay pregnant. These issues have to be present for a year or more.
- 1 in 8 couples experience infertility
- Infertility can be attributed to the man or the woman
- 80% – 90% of infertility can be treated with medical intervention
- 10% – 15% of known pregnancies will end in miscarriage
- 1% of woman will experience repeat miscarriages
The problems started soon after I was married. At the age of 20 and newlywed, medical insurance was not something we had access to. Instead, medical treatment had to be minimal, basic and at whatever clinic available. Not wanting to have children yet We opted for the clinics recommended birth control, a shoot, I would only need every three months. Shortly after starting this recommended option the side effects set in, massive weight gain followed by recurring severe abdominal pain. Repeat visits and attempts to find the source of the pain seemed to only make it worse.
I lived in this condition a year before insurance was obtained and additional tests performed. Still no answer. Eventually, it was decided that exploratory surgery was the only option. What was discovered was endometriosis and scar tissue across the uterus from untreated Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) likely caused by unsanitary clinical conditions. My doctor was concerned this would affect my ability to have a full term pregnancy but that only time would tell.
I was taken off birth control and soon did become pregnant. However, this would be a short term victory. Before even one family or friend was notified I found myself back in the hospital with complications. Although the medical terms are fuzzy the message for the doctor was clear. Pregnancy would always be a risk for me or the baby. In other words, if I were to become pregnant I may find myself in a position where I would have to weight the options between abortion or my own life. In the end, my husband and I chose a child-free life and my safety.
Dealing with infertility
Unfortunately, infertility is not something you are allowed to get over quickly or work through in your own time. As a young couple, I was frequently questioned about my readiness and plan to have children. Responding to this proved difficult.
- Lie by saying I don’t want children – This response almost always leads to guilt trips as people attempt to talk you into the joys of parenthood. Some will even go as far as accuse you of being selfish.
No one enjoys having their very character questioned. The woman in this situation is left feeling depressed as she is reminded of what she is missing or insulted for something she can not control.
- Lie by saying soon, just not now – This response may be taken the most positive by others but will certainly lead to continued pressure with the added bonus of people wanting to discuss these future child having plans.
This woman must now deal with a web of lies on top of a consent reminder of her infertility. For the woman trying and struggling to conceive, there may be a great deal of added pressure leading to anxiety.
- Tell the truth that you are unable to or struggling to have children – This response will certainly go one of two ways.
- The look of mixed discussed, pity and awkward – Somehow this response is offensive to people because it makes them uncomfortable.
- The “fixer” – These people will unleash a list of advice about all of the options available. (Fertility doctors, surrogacy, adoption, even prayer)
This woman is left feeling frustrated, insecure and even violated. There is shame associated with this response as this woman is made to feel that her infertility is wrong, taboo or in some way within her own control.
It is considered completely acceptable to ask a person personal questions about their reproductive plans. Yet, for some reason, it is considered taboo to answer with an honest response. The focus becomes how the asking person feels rather than the emotions that these questions can have on the person being asked.
I have tried all of these approaches at one time or another and found that none of them ended positively. In the end, I was left feeling as though I was broken, or that womanhood was diminished.
Importance of Talking About Infertility
Over the years I learned to accept my infertility and I got used to the response “I can’t have kids” came with.
From opening up about this, I have come to discover just how many women have stories like mine. The woman who feels shame over something they can’t control, the woman who lies in order to keep others around them more comfortable, the woman who lives in depression because she lacks the “purpose” society tells her she should have.
But this doesn’t have to always be the case. By opening ourselves up to real conversations about infertility we can:
- Discover you are not alone
- Build support for other women
- Educate those around you who do not understand infertility
- Break the Stigma of infertility
- Open further conversations
You are not broken! Being a woman is about more than having children!
You are not alone! Thousands of woman and men experience infertility!
Your life can still have fulfillment! There is no wrong family…Heres to the aunts, godmothers, adopted mothers and all of the other woman kicking butt in life!
You have nothing to be ashamed of! Reproduction is unique and personal!
To the men struggling with infertility, we see you as well! You are loved and supported!