Infertility Does Not Define You

1 in 8 couples will have trouble conceiving a baby, that means 1 in 8 of your family members and friend group. That is too many people to even count, yet why do we feel all alone when we can not grow our family? Instead of talking, sharing and learning to empower each other we create guilt, fear and shame that does not allow us to grow. Infertility does not have to define you or hold you back, your worth is not based on your ability to have a baby.

So what is infertility?

According to the Office of Women’s Health, for women under the age of 35, infertility is defined by not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying. If you are over the age of 35, it is categorized by 6 months of trying. In the United Sates, about 10% of women between the ages of 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are some common Misconceptions about infertility:

It is the woman’s fault.

This is not always the case. In fact, about 1/3 of infertility cases are due to maternal factors and 1/3 are due to paternal factors. The other third of problems regarding infertility are unknown or caused by a mixture of both.

Most people can conceive whenever they want.

In fact, according to the Fertility Specialist Medical group, it is normal for even two perfectly healthy, fertile people to try for a few months to get pregnant. Over five million Americans of child bearing age have some sort of issues with fertility in their lifetime.

Infertility means you cannot have a child.

Infertility only means that you have been unsuccessful in conceiving a child naturally after one year of trying. In today’s society, with the help of modern medicine, the majority of people who seek help and are given the proper treatment do go on the have children.

Now, because infertility is typically a private thing, you may not know that your sister, cousin, friend, brother, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew is struggling with the stress of not being able to conceive. Therefore, it is important that we stay impartial to those who may be having a hard time.

There is no reason to place stress on couples to grow their family.

Questions like, “So, when should we be expecting a new member?” or “You’ve been together for a while, why haven’t you gotten pregnant yet?” can be extremely painful questions.

Parenthood is a transition into adult life for men and women individually, as well as a couple. Being unable to have a child can lead to serious negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger which can ultimately lead into marital problems and social isolation.

Couples that are going through this may feel burdened by the ideas of stigmatization and diminishing self-esteem. This is why empathy is so important.

If someone you know reaches out to you about their struggles with infertility, here are a few things you should NOT do:

Offer recommendations.

Unless you are an expert on the subject, chances are you will offer the same advice google did, which can be extremely stressful and redundant. Sometimes offering an ear is the best you can do.

Be overly expressive about your own pregnancy.

Although it is great for you to be excited for yourself, this is sensitive for others. If you know someone who is dealing with this, it may be difficult for you to share your good news with them. If they are your friend, you can still tell them, just in a more sensitive manner. Instead of bursting with joy over the phone, maybe reach out over dinner and casually let them know, including the fact that you do not want to upset them but rather keep them in the loop.

Be dismissive.

Saying things like “It will work itself out.” Or “You’re still so young!” can make someone feel as though their feelings are inadequate. Instead, offer support and let them know you are around to help if they ever need it.

Just remember, you don’t always know what is going on behind closed doors. You don’t always know what people are battling. Be cautious with what you say to couples who do not have children (or are trying for a second) and try to just listen.

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