The wait, the agony, the ridicule, the expectations, the mockery, not to mention the pain, all sum up everything that is immensely ugly about infertility. The word itself epitomizes heartbreak, a failure to bring forth something that solidifies one’s future, a reminder of one’s inability to keep the lineage line going. It is, in no uncertain terms, the antithesis of acceptance, of love, of joy, and of belief in everything humane.
You only need to type the word “infertility” in a search engine to come face to face with the ugly side of infertility. Heart-wrenching stories of women shunned by their partners looked down upon by their peers, and debilitating depression abound. The pain of infertility is, indeed, unlike any other.
In other words, the shame associated with inability to conceive is inexplicable. You feel crushed, loathed, emotionally crippled, dejected, and as if you are an outcast. You feel as if you are abnormal and there is something amiss with you. Many a time, you find yourself asking why it had to be you. Why, for some godforsaken reason, your body can’t seem to do the one single most important thing that it was designed to do: conceive.
Every time you are near babies or attend a baby shower, a kid’s birthday, or a friend calls to tell you they are pregnant, you wonder if you will ever experience such little joys. You find yourself bemoaning about the unfairness of life, your self-esteem takes a dip, and you feel somewhat dirty and ashamed by your inability to conceive. It is, in no simpler terms, an experience you can’t wish on your worst enemy.
When Are You Considered Infertile?
There is no one universally accepted timeline to determine a heterosexual couple’s infertility. In Australia, a couple is considered to be infertile after one year of continuously trying. To fully accept this definition is a fallacy of sorts. I mean, haven’t we come across couples who tried for a baby for 10 years and finally conceived when all seemed lost?
Haven’t we seen couples who were a laughing stock conceive after 15 years of trying? In light of this, isn’t it a little far-fetched and unreasonable to brand a couple infertile after one year of trying? The jury is out on this one. While as laymen we have our reservations on the timelines, medical professionals use this timeline as a marker to categorize and ultimately, determine the right treatment for different stages of infertility.
Tried to conceive for God knows how long without success? If yes, what you are suffering from is primary infertility. You’ve been through the roller coaster of emotions, you’ve had to deal with innumerable “when are you guys trying for a baby” from friends, tried numerous remedies, and now what remains is hope. Hope that by some miracle, you will conceive one day. You might have given up or feel as if the chances are very slim but you have this flicker of a hope that something magical can and will happen.
Then, we have a monster called secondary infertility. The monster that leaves you confused in a constant state of “how is it possible?” Secondary infertility comes about when you conceive once but for some reason, can’t seem to get pregnant again however much you try or when you do, you never carry the pregnancy to term. Some women go through both. They go through the unforgivable ordeal of primary and secondary infertility. Some got pregnant very easily the first time and can’t understand why it has taken them years to get pregnant a second time.
Causes of Secondary Infertility
The fact that you are unable to get pregnant again after your first or second child can be mindboggling. While some people tend to treat secondary infertility as less serious compared to primary infertility, the truth of the matter is that the experience is just as torturous. The grief and the pain, just as worse. So, what causes secondary infertility?
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Endometriosis (tissue that lines uterine wall grows somewhere else other than the uterus)
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Male fertility informed by either low sperm count, sperm motility, or unusual sperm shape
- Anti-sperm antibodies
- Irregular ovulation
- Cervical mucus that is hostile
- Unexplained causes
Coping With Infertility
A lot of people out here are dealing with emotional stress related to infertility. The emotional stress is triggered by a number of feelings such as guilt, inadequacy, loss, anger, jealousy, abandonment/rejection, being judged, and financial stress just to mention but a few. Most people become loners, avoid gatherings where people are celebrating baby showers or even kids birthdays.
It’s important to understand that you are not different, you are not abnormal, and sure as hell not alone. So how do you cope or manage the stress and stigma associated with infertility?
Have a Support Group
You probably feel alone and have built a wall around yourself. You don’t want to socialize, you don’t want to hear stories of “I just got pregnant”, and you don’t want to face the increasingly judgmental peers, or even deal with the shame of your inability to conceive. You’ve become an island, you are out of reach, and you seem to wallow in self-pity.
The first step to managing this situation is actually reaching out to your family or others who’ve gone through or are going through the same problem as yours. No man is an island. If you keep this isolation thing for so long and beating yourself over something you have no control over, you will be inviting depression. Reach out and have a support system around you.
Talk About Your Problem
You are bottling a lot inside you. Part of the problem is because you’ve closed all avenues for communication. Open up about your pain, talk to a professional or even your partner about how you feel, the tribulations you are going through, your fears and what not. After all, a problem shared is half solved. Right?
Give Your Partner the Leeway to Deal How They Deal
People cope with stress differently. If he/she is the kind that likes to pummel a punching bag, scream into a pillow, or simply want to be left alone for a day or two, do just that. It is important that they get the frustrations out of their systems. Your job is to give them space and all the support they need.
Read As Much As You Can About Infertility
Forget what they say about ignorance. It is no bliss at all. You are probably feeling like a rotten piece of shit because you have limited information about infertility. Try and understand what informs your condition, what remedies are available, statistics about men and women struggling with infertility and chances are that you will feel better about yourself. The more informed you are, the better you will feel about yourself.
The Final Take
There is hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You have to own it, you have to believe it and by all means, keep your head up. You didn’t choose this path and many before you waited for many years before conceiving. Who says you can’t be one of them. People will quip and ask you silly questions. Some will openly shun you or even mock you for your inability to get a child. Give them a deaf ear. They know not what they are talking about. Only allow positive people with positive vibes around you.
If you’ve been trying long enough, try and find out what could be the cause. Is it something that can be treated? If yes, discuss with your partner how you can go about it. Above all, find support and remember that you own your happiness. Don’t let infertility take over your life. Don’t let it micromanage you. Don’t let it dictate how you lead your life. Be happy, keep your head high, and remember that tough times don’t last! This is just a rough phase. It will be over soon!