Thank you to my friend Jeanne who posted about National Infertility Awareness Week at her blog Chronic Healing. I linked to the organization sponsoring this event RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association (http://www.resolve.org/) and I found the page about infertility myths especially enlightening. I know a couple that has struggled for years trying to have children, and know the heartbreak and sadness that has resulted. I worry that I may have made some inadvertent comment that added to their burden.
This is a silent and sometimes stigmatizing disease that can cause heartbreak in ways I can't imagine. Sometimes there are no quick and easy scientific answers to what is happening, and that only extends the anguish. My favorite myth that was busted was "Infertility is NOT a disease":
Yes, it is. According to the dictionary, a disease is a “disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body”. Infertility in either the male or female partner is in fact directly due to some malfunction in the body, whether it be hormonal or structural.Here is a link to the page with partnered blog submissions. I am reading as many as I can.
I have modified my Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs photo with the symbol for this week because I think family and children have to rank pretty high on that hierarchy. I am including a second quote from the website concerning the "hidden" emotions of infertility:
Infertility is a major life crisis for 1 in 8 couples. For these women and men fighting the disease of infertility, the infertility experience involves many hidden losses for the individuals, their loved ones and society as a whole, including:Hoping that society and science converge to help solve infertility issues. I know a few people that have successfully gone through in vitro fertilization, but the cost is high, often not covered by insurance, and this does not solve the problems of all infertile couples. Besides the inability to have children, there are other health issues that go along with being infertile. Many gynecological cancers (such as the cancer I had - endometrial cancer) are more prevalent in nulliparous women. Multiple miscarriages cause hormonal fluctuations that can cause brain chemical depression in addition to situational depression. Male problems with fertility can result from a variety of issues and I am sure carry their own health risks.
•Loss of the pregnancy and the birth experience;
•Loss of a genetic legacy and loss of future contributing citizens to the next generation;
•Loss of the parenting experience;
•Loss of a grandparent relationship;
•Low feelings of self-worth;
•Loss of stability in family and personal relationships;
•Loss of work productivity; and
•Loss of a sense of spirituality and sense of hope for the future.
Because infertility often involves major personal life issues and decisions, it is often experienced as a private matter and is not ordinarily discussed in public forums. The personal nature of the infertility experience contributes to the failure of the public, politicians, healthcare professionals and the media to recognize infertility as a disease. This causes a lack of sound knowledge and available resources about infertility.
If you know someone who has experienced the saddness of infertility, think of them this week and spread awareness of this invisible disease.