Infertility is a major bitch. It can seem like an almost endless font of emotions, misconceptions, fears, and at times complete and utter despair for the women and men who suffer through it. For women of a certain age who are not yet even trying for babies, it can swing like a scythe out of nowhere. For women (and yes, men) who are on the path to babies and facing road block after road block, it can be one of the hardest roads to travel in life.
The good news? Infertility is a bitch who almost always gets made over into a happy stork. Of the many strong women and men I know who have been down this road, they all have children now – be they biologically-derived or of another mother. And all of them feel with the depth of their souls that they have the children they were “meant” to have. Some confide they would not even change the path that got them to parenthood, as stressful as it was at times.
Still, for our sisters and brothers still on this road, one of the most painful things about it can be the misconceptions of others. People in the midst of infertility may know the technical ins and outs almost as well as some doctors. But the same doesn’t go for the aunt at Thanksgiving dinner who loudly asks three times in one evening if you’re pregnant and haven’t you been trying for years? (Because you got knocked up in the ten minutes since the first time she asked, right?) For the nosy aunts and well-meaning friends out there, here’s a look at some of the common misunderstandings about fertility that are better left unsaid.
It’s all in your head. It’s not all in your head. As Parents Magazine points out, some may tell men and women struggling with infertility that “if you’d stop worrying so much, you’d get pregnant.” Dr. John Zhang is the director of New Hope Fertility Center in New York. As he told New York Family, your relaxed mental state is important while trying to conceive. But he points out that “It’s also not [the case] that you can just relax and everything will be fine.”
Isn’t it easy for women to get pregnant? Shows like 16 & Pregnant make it seem like a case of wine coolers is all you need to be with child. But the CDC reports that 7.3 million women in the United States have “impaired fecundity.” This is 11.3 percent of all women and by some estimate, one in every 10 couples. The struggle to get pregnant is more common than people think.
She had twins, so she must have used fertility treatments. Yes, with the rise of IVF, the rate of twin births has risen. One in 32 births are now twins, a rate that has gone up 65 percent since 1980 due to fertility treatments. But that doesn’t mean that every twin birth is from using fertility drugs or procedures, as one in 89 women still have fraternal twins and one in 250 women give birth to identical babies. More over, is it really a nosy aunt’s business how you conceived?
You’re healthy and look so young, so why are you having trouble? As a woman ages, her chances for conceiving a baby decrease no matter what. And while healthy choices are important on the road to baby, ultimately it is just about the joining of a viable egg and viable sperm. Further, infertility can strike men and women of any age.
Well, at least you have each other. To insinuate that a childless couple can’t have a happy or fulfilled life without babies insinuates that all people need parenthood as the lasting key to fulfillment. Life has disappointments. And if adoption and/or fertility treatments fail, people move on.
Genetics are everything. No, they aren’t. As Dr. Cooperman pointed out to New York Family, there is “no correlation between your mother’s infertility and your ability to conceive.” So if your mother or sister had trouble, that doesn’t mean you will.
It’s the woman’s fault. Sadly, CDC points out that 7.5 percent of all sexually-experienced men have sought treatment at some point for fertility issues. This comes to 3.3 to 4.7 million men. Couples who are trying for children are in this together. And as for the rest of us? We’re there for support.
Images: Vivian Chen, e3000