Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Infertility Awareness Week

More Common Than I Knew

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:

•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.
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.

If you know someone who has experienced the saddness of infertility, think of them this week and spread awareness of this invisible disease.


  1. Great post. My husband and I have struggled with infertility and it has been difficult not only to deal with directly but also I've found that people don't want to talk about it. I wish that I could have more conversations about it.

  2. This is a loss we each mourn in our own way but it is difficult because you suffer with your partner in silence. RESOLVE is great at helping spread the word. Thanks to you too!

  3. Thank you for spreading awareness about infertility. There are so many people struggling with incredible heartache and against insensitive comments by well-meaning people.

    Our society needs to understand that infertility is classified as a disease and that misguided advice about how to solve infertility problems can compound feelings of grief and isolation.

    Infertile couples typically deal, on a regular basis, with remarks that can cut to the core and cause intensified feelings of emotional pain.


  4. Migrainista: Thank you for sharing. I wonder if people don't want to talk about it because they might have experienced this at one point. I know my mother miscarried a child between my brother and myself, but she rarely spoke of it and my father never, yet she still remains sad about it to this day.

    DEJ aka MOMM: I agree, it is a very personal loss and I don't think our society gives us tools to help deal with that loss so it does end up "in silence". Thank you for commenting!

  5. Jeanne: Thank you for posting the links and getting me started. This is an important subject that we all tend to overlook because looking can be very painful on a personal basis.

  6. Excellent post!

    I am so blessed to have my boys..but it was not without a bit of struggle.

    My first experience with pregnancy...I delivered a non-viable 17 week baby at home, which resulted in retained placenta, emergency surgery, uterine infection...and a month in bed.

    Secondly...I had a healthy pregnancy that lasted 38 weeks and had my Brendan Bear.

    When trying to give Brendan a sibling, I easily got pregnant again...but at 12 weeks the baby's heart stopped beating...and back into surgery I went.

    It then took over a year of trying to conceive...and I delivered Zachary at 37 weeks.

    An enormous blow was last year when I got the news I had to have my cervix removed and a uterine ablation...and more children were no longer an option.

    While I was not sure I'd ever want more...having the desicion made for me was not ideal.

    I deal with miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death everyday...and it is definately something everyone needs to be aware of.

    It is quite ironic you brought this up...as there are some things I am working on currently that relates to this matter. I plan on posting about it when I am finished!

  7. I think it is very much not talked about, and the young couple I know have gone through all the losses described on the website. You have beautiful boys, but sounds like it was a scary journey for you, and a sad journey for you and the babies you lost. And the loss of fertility effects all women in a way that is very hard to describe.

    It is wonderful that there are concerned health professionals like you to help with the shock, grief, and loss that accompanies a pregnancy that does not go well. I would love to read any posts about your projects!!