Four Things No One Tells You About Infertility.
If you have been struggling to have a baby you have probably found yourself turning to the internet for answers. Google “infertility” and you will quickly discover that there is a massive amount of information out there. News articles, blogs, websites, medical journals, reproductive health clinics, and a whole lot of online support groups or forums. (Anyone else ever ended up down the rabbit whole of online infertility forums during the two week wait?)
You have probably spent hours, upon hours reading posts, articles, blogs and forums about how to get pregnant. But do you ever find the “answers” you are looking for? Do you ever feel understood or that anyone else understands what you are going through? Or are you only left feeling sad, frustrated, overwhelmed, and even more alone?
Part of why we feel so crummy is that despite there being so much information about infertility out there, there is a whole lot that no one ever talks about. Here are four things no one tells you about infertility.
1. That infertility is more common than people think.
Did anyone ever tell you it would be this hard to have a baby? Probably not. As young people we viewed pregnancy in pretty black and white terms, either you are pregnant or you are preventing pregnancy. We spend a lot of time telling people how to prevent pregnancy from happening and virtually no time preparing people for the possibility that they might have trouble getting pregnant. (I don’t know about you, but this was never brought up in any of my health classes.) The reality is, infertility is very common, it is estimated that 1 in 7 couples have trouble conceiving. Often once a person shares their struggle in building their family with others, they find lots of other people “coming out of the infertility closet”. During a time you may feel really alone, this can be so incredibly helpful. So if infertility has happened to you, I am so very sorry, but please know you are not alone.
2. That having lots of planned sex is not as fun as it sounds. And lots of times making a baby doesn’t even involve sex!
Yes sex is awesome. Sex is a great way to connect, relieve stress, and feel all kinds of warm and wonderful feelings. But planned, well timed sex is kind of a buzz kill. Even the most in love, sexually compatible couple may become worn out from all of the carefully planned sex that making a baby sometimes involves. Also, for lots of people struggling with infertility, the road to baby making involves everything but sex. Picture lots of needles, doctors, ultrasound wands, lab techs, embryologists and even lawyers…but no sex. This can be tough on a couple too. So how do you keep yourself from dreading sex while your trying to make babies? Keep the lines of communication open with your partner right now. Chances are you are both feeling drained from the pressure of sex during infertility. If it helps, take sex out of the equation and try to focus on intimacy. Remember that being intimate can mean a whole lot more than sex. So keep up the make-out sessions in the kitchen, hug, hold hands and don’t forget to cuddle while you binge watch Game of Thrones
3. You may never learn the reason for your infertility.
Yup. You read that correctly. Infertility involves lots of science but often very little answers. One of the most frustrating parts about infertility is how hard it is for many reproductive specialists to target the exact root cause of infertility. In some cases, diagnostic testing can help to rule out or identify issues in either male or female fertility, but often times those struggling to have a child aren’t able to know specifically what is causing their infertility. This uncertainty can be very challenging to manage. You may find yourself feeling like your fertility clinic is just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Feel however you need to feel about this. Anger, frustration, rage. It is all ok. Ask lots of questions and trust your instinct. If you believe you want a second, third, or fourth opinion don’t be afraid to ask for it. But try to remember just how insane the circumstances to make a human being actually have to be. It is amazing anyone ever gets pregnant!
4. You will survive this…promise.
I know it may feel like you won’t, but I promise you, with the right support it is possible to survive and even thrive in the experience of infertility. The battle of infertility may be one of the hardest experiences of your life, but you will make it through. First, caring for yourself is key to survival. Second, allow yourself permission during this time to be selfish! Think about what you need most right now and give it to yourself. Finally, having a solid support system will help you to push through even the most challenging of days. And if you are finding it hard to get the support you need, consider how counseling may help you survive infertility.