This week is the Annual Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm going to try to post a few times. The theme this year is "Resolve to Know More" and this is right up my alley. From the day we got our infertility diagnosis we researched every.single.thing we could. Poor Dave took every supplement ever known to help with male fertility issues. I looked up statistics, specialists, differing opinions on treatment plans, etc. We wanted to KNOW MORE about this medical condition we were now diagnosed with and walking through. But, during this week I do feel responsible for helping educate others about infertility, both on the medical and emotional level. Here is some worthwhile information from Resolve, the National Infertility Association.
Myth: Infertility is a women's problem.
Fact: This is untrue. It surprises most people to learn that infertility is a female problem in 35% of the cases, a male problem in 35% of the cases, a combined problem of the couple in 20% of cases, and unexplained in 10% of cases. It is essential that both the man and the woman be evaluated during an infertility work-up.
Myth: Everyone seems to get pregnant at the drop of a hat.
Fact: More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. When you seek support, you will find that you are not alone. Join RESOLVE, a support group, or talk with others who are struggling to build a family, so that you won't feel isolated.
Myth: It's all in your head! Why don't you relax or take a vacation. Then you'll get pregnant!
Fact: Infertility is a disease or condition of the reproductive system. While relaxing may help you with your overall quality of life, the stress and deep emotions you feel are the result of infertility, not the cause of it. Improved medical techniques have made it easier to diagnose infertility problems.
Myth: Don't worry so much -- it just takes time. You'll get pregnant if you're just patient.
Fact: Infertility is a medical problem that may be treated. At least 50% of those who complete an infertility evaluation will respond to treatment with a successful pregnancy. Some infertility problems respond with higher or lower success rates. Those who do not seek help have a "spontaneous cure rate" of about 5% after a year of infertility.
Myth: If you adopt a baby you'll get pregnant!
Fact: This is one of the most painful myths for couples to hear. First it suggests that adoption is only a means to an end, not an happy and successful end in itself. Second, it is simply not true. Studies reveal that the rate for achieving pregnancy after adopting is the same as for those who do not adopt.
Myth: Why don't you just forget it and adopt? After all, there are so many babies out there who need homes!
Fact: For many, adoption is a happy resolution to infertility. However, most people explore medical treatment for infertility prior to considering adoption. In addition, traditional adoption options have changed, and adoption can be more costly and time-consuming than expected. It is, however, still possible to adopt the healthy baby of your dreams. There are also many older children and children with special needs available for adoption.
Myth: Maybe you two are doing something wrong!
Fact: Infertility is a medical condition, not a sexual disorder.
Myth: My partner might leave me because of our infertility.
Fact: The majority of couples do survive the infertility crisis, learning in the process new ways of relating to each other, which deepens their relationship in years to follow.
Myth: Perhaps this is God's way of telling you that you two aren't meant to be parents!
Fact: It is particularly difficult to hear this when you are struggling with infertility. You know what loving parents you would be, and it is painful to have to explain to others that you have a medical problem.
Myth: Infertility is nature's way of controlling population.
Fact: Zero population growth is a goal pursued in a time of world overpopulation, but it still allows for couples to replace themselves with two children. Individuals or couples can certainly elect the option to be childfree or to raise a single child. Infertility, for those who desire children, denies them the opportunity to choose.
Myth: I shouldn't take a month off from infertility treatment for any reason... I just know that this next month will be THE one!
Fact: It is important periodically to reassess your treatment and your parenting goal. Continuity in treatment is important, but sometimes a break can provide needed rest and renewal for the next steps.
Myth: I'll be labeled a 'trouble maker' if I ask too many questions.
Fact: The physician/patient team is important. You need to be informed about what treatments are available. What is right for one couple may not be right for another, either physically, financially, or emotionally. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your doctor.
A second opinion can be helpful. If needed, discuss this option with your physician.
Myth: I know I'll never be able to stop treatment until I have a pregnancy.
Fact: Pregnancy is not the only pathway to parenthood. You may begin to think more about parenthood than about pregnancy. You may long for your life to get back to normal. You may consider childfree living or begin to think of other ways to build a family.
Myth: I've lost interest in my job, hobbies, and my friends because of infertility. No one understands! My life will never be the same!
Fact: Infertility is a life crisis -- it has a rippling effect on all areas of your life. It is normal to feel a sense of failure that can affect your self-esteem and self-image. You will move through this crisis. It is a process, and it may mean letting go of initial dreams. Throughout this process, stay informed about the wide range of options and connect with others facing similar experiences.
For me, the key to all these facts is to remember to show some grace and compassion to those walking this difficult road. I hope that it allows you to take a moment to be sensitive to those going through the trial of infertility. There's nothing you can do to take away their pain, but I assure you that it definitely helps to have others offer to help carry the burden by offering love, support and even dinner on their darkest days. Even if you know someone who has resolved their infertility, whether through pregnancy, adoption or choosing to life child-free, I guarantee that there are areas of their heart that are still sensitive and sad about all they went through.
So, I encourage you to take a moment this week to acknowledge their pain and send them some love. It's a road I wish no one would have to take, but so many people do. And we can use all the support and encouragement you have to offer.