For whatever reason, infertility is a much misunderstood disease. I’ve often pondered why. Is it because it deals with procreation and therefore is hush hush? Is it because it is invisible—no one knows whether your lack of children is by choice or illness? I’m not sure, but misunderstood it is. I frequently hear that infertility isn’t tragic or really even a disease since it can be “so easily cured by just adopting”. My response to that statement is well known.
I may not know why, but I do know that myths abound about the disease of infertility. In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I’d like to share my Top Ten Infertility Myths. Please add your own in the comments!
Top Ten Myths about Infertility
- Just relax. OK friends, if relaxing were enough to do it, we’d all get pregnant the first month we ditched birth control, bought that really good bottle of wine, and lit the candles.
- It’s your fault because _________ (Take your pick: lived the fun life and postponed starting a family, had sex too young, work too much, enjoy sex too much (or is it too little?), are overweight, are underweight, don’t like your sister’s kids, were ambivalent about becoming a mother, etc.) Fault has no place when talking about a disease.
- It’s usually caused by a problem with the woman. I can’t tell you the number of people I talk with that go through invasive and expensive testing of the woman, only to find out from a simple and cheap sperm analysis that the problem is with the man.
- Your Ob/Gyn can handle most fertility problems. Although your initial consultation and treatment can start with your gynecologist, after 6 months (over 35) or a year (under 35) get yourself to a reproductive endocrinologist.
- Infertility treatment is always successful.
- Just keep trying, look at ______(fill in the blank with the name of any 40 something actress), she just had twins.
- All this “trying” must be fun! *wink*
- You are selfish to want to be pregnant or to create a child with your spouse.
- Adopt, then you’ll get pregnant.
- All these new fangled treatments like donor egg and surrogacy are against nature. If God wanted you to be a parent, you would get pregnant.
Add Your Comment
Is it helpful to think of infertility as a disease? Isn’t it a condition having many possible causes, a very few caused by disease?
Myth #1: Marriages rarley survive IF. I had heard this many times. People used to say “if I were in your shoes my marriage would have never survived.” and I’d say in my mind ” trust me, you would have. remember “in sickness and in health. if anything it’d have strengthened it. Myth #2 : Doing IVF means twins and triplets. I think shows like J&K+8, octomom have festered this misconception. People fail to understand that most REs are conscientious and responsibly follow medical guidelines. @Dawn: if theses are repetitive, let me know, I’ll delete them 🙂
So sad. Hoping there’s a bit more understanding out there each day.
Von, I had thought this too and then looked up the definition of “disease.” It is a deviation in the normal function or structure of any body part, organ or system, which fits the bill for infertility. I agree that stating infertility is a “disease” might lead one to believe there is a single cause, where the term “disability” might allow for more room to have multiple causes, but that is also a loaded word…Either way, fertility is a real medical condition. It’s kind of insane how many superstitions that people have about the basic function of reproducing there are. Do we really need to have the birds and the bees talk again?
Cyndi – Don’t wait. Do it now. Best of luck to you!!
Heard #1 and #9 a lot. Then we got pregnant in the middle of completing our dossier for our adoption. So now of course I have to suffer through a lot of, “See? I just knew you’d get pregnant once you decided to adopt! It ALWAYS happens that way!” Morons. We struggled with secondary infertility, so we also endured a lot of, “So, when are you gonna have another baby?” and “Are you ‘one and done’? You’re smart not to have another…” – people never knowing how badly we wanted another baby and how painful those comments were. Now we get somewhat shocked reactions to the fact that we’re still planning to adopt (don’t they understand that we made an affirmative decision to adopt, and it wasn’t a consolation prize that became unnecessary once we finally did get pg?), or questions about whether we’re doing it b/c we can’t have yet another baby by birth (duh, none of your business, but probably not – I’m even OLDER now, dummy). Honestly, people have no clue. And while of course we are so, so blessed to have our 2 boys and waiting to adopt our little girl, in some ways I *hate* being more ammunition for people’s careless comments about adoption being a cure for infertility. We would have gotten pg whether we’d decided to adopt or not. But there are probably more myths surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and infertility than any other area of medicine. It has always been that way…
I was at a meeting about toxics in the water and how some toxics may be a cause of the increased infertility problems in developed countries. One gentleman stated infertility world-wide is not a problem with overpopulation so women should not be concerned with infertility issues. he was just about mauled by the room full of women! Overpopulation is not a concern of the infertile woman.
Great post! I share it all!
Good post! As usualy, you’re right on. My favorite is the “just relax” one. I get it all the time.
It’s interesting how people who’ve never been infertile and never had to go through treatment have all the answers. MY mom and sister think I should either take a vacation or adopt and then I’ll magically be pregnant. It’s like the adopted kid would just be like a puppy or something, not a real human. It drives me nuts.
Oh man, if I had a dollar for every time I heard #9, I’d be well on my way to funding this adoption!
I hear #6 a lot! I’m 37 and about to start seeing an RE (as a future single mom and using DI) and everyone keeps telling me to wait and try to find that “perfect guy” first. When I mention waning fertility, etc, etc, I hear #6 non-stop. (I also hear #10 a lot – thank you for standing up and calling it a myth!!)
Oh, #9 and #10. I heard them OFTEN, and we adopted by choice! I did not have that desire to be pregnant and just hoped against hope that those people were wrong! Thankfully, 3 adopted children later, it seems my wonderful kids did not “cure” the infertility. I can’t imagine how awful I would have felt if I WANTED to be pregnant and had to hear these ridiculous comments. Sheesh.