Topics related to sex are not publicly spoken, so topics relating to infertility get whispered or not talked about.
This leaves those dealing with infertility in the dark and feeling alone. Did you know that 1 in 8 people deal with infertility? That means that you or someone you know has probably dealt with this crappy journey in one way or another. The WHO defines infertility as the inability of a sexually active, non-contracepting couple to achieve pregnancy in one year.
For some, the topic can be daunting to talk about. But for others, like me, I will talk to a brick wall about infertility and tell my story. My story is cluttered with infertility struggles, but I will not be ashamed. I will talk about it, because it is how after 4 years, a lot of medicine, science and IVF my son was conceived.
Did you know?
Approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner, one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained. www.asrm.org
A couple ages 29-33 with a normal functioning reproductive system has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving in any given month (National Women’s Health Resource Center). After six months of trying, 60% of couples will conceive without medical assistance. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997).
Only 8 of the 50 U.S. states make it mandatory for employers to include IVF coverage in their plans offered to their employees. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not require coverage for infertility treatments.
Approximately 44% of women with infertility have sought medical assistance. Of those who seek medical intervention, approximately 65% give birth. (Infertility As A Covered Benefit, William M. Mercer, 1997)
Drug therapy or surgical procedures treat nearly 85-90% of infertility cases. Fewer than 3% need advanced reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization (IVF). (www.asrm.org).
Many do not know how to support or talk to a friend or family member suffering through infertility. So this next paragraph is for you. You probably know someone that has dealt or is dealing with not being able to start a family how and when they want.
You obviously want to be sensitive to the subject because we are talking about creating human life. More times than I can count we were asked when we were going to start a family. Every time I wanted to scream at that person and say that it isn’t for lack of trying. For almost 4 years (48 months of disappointment) without success we tried to create life. Every time we were asked, I would come up with a different excuse until finally I started educating people.
Telling someone that you don’t understand what they are going through but you are there for them is sometimes the most heartfelt thing you can say.
Also a hug goes a long way. No words needed, but just warm embrace. Understand that most of infertility is grieving, so treat the person with compassion. Don’t be reluctant to tell your infertile friend about your new pregnancy and child’s events. When friends tried to hide their good news from me and I found out some other way, it hurt more. I want to be happy for your pregnancy and I want to still be a part of your life even though mine is hard right now. These statements cut to the core:
“Have you tried having sex in this position?”
“Why don’t y’all just adopt?”
“I heard that an all whatever diet will get you pregnant superfast.”
“Go out drinking one night and have sex in your back seat of your car. That’s how all the teenagers get pregnant!”
“Enjoy just being a couple right now, because parenting is really hard.” (Ouch!)
(One of my favorites) “Maybe you shouldn’t stress so much about it and it will happen.” Don’t be that person!
You are not alone in this journey. Medication and timed intercourse creates a time frame and takes all of the spontaneity out of sex, unfortunately taking the fun away also. A timeline on sex can create an issue in the bedroom, but just know that you and your spouse are not alone. You are also not alone when you start to read into symptoms. Every little pain, cramp, and change in your body could be implantation, or could be your uterus finally creating a home for an embryo. Hopefully this is the case, but when it isn’t and your whole world crashes down AGAIN, you are not alone!
This journey can seem so lonely but just search for hashtags on social media and you will quickly see that there are so many women and men going through a #TWW (two week wait, time between ovulation and a pregnancy test) or #TTC (trying to conceive).
Reach out for your mental well-being and find someone to lean on, even if that someone lives 1000 miles away and you only know them through social media.
Also allow yourself sad days, but don’t let the sad days outnumber the happy days. It may not seem like it but there are good days. And if you can’t find a good day, find a good moment and allow the moments to become days. Ultimately don’t allow this journey to drag you down or define you. That may seem easier said than done, but when you come out on the other side I hope that you can see the good in the journey. Hold onto the good and know that you are so much more than an empty womb!