Yay! Happy National Infertility Awareness Week! Well, every week is infertility awareness week for me, but for the rest of you National Infertility Awareness Week is about raising awareness about infertility. Most of you are painfully aware (since I complain about it all the time) that OccDoc and I are having trouble conceiving, lots of trouble to the tune of a few failed IUIs, two failed IVFs, and most recently a failed Frozen Embryo Transfer. We’ve been talking a lot. A lot about our options, our fall back plans, our safety nets, basically where the hell do we go from here.
Who is Affected by Infertility?
It affects about 10% of the population; according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 7.3 million Americans, or 1 in 8 couples of childbearing, age are infertile. It is caused by a multitude of things: 30% female related, 30% male related, 10% both partners are affected, and, quite possibly the most frustrating reason of all – 20% unexplained. And, yes, I know those percentages don’t add up to 100%, but with infertility the stats just don’t add up. If they did add up I’d be 197% pregnant right now (I know stats don’t work like that, so spare me the math lesson, smarty pants, just trying to illustrate a point).
What is Infertility Exactly?
Brilliant question! Why thank you, self! Infertility is defined as: the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. If you are over the age of 35, the time of trying to conceive is reduced to 6 months. Plain and simple. If you fall into these categories, don’t ignore the fact that there may be a solution. Do you want more facts? If so, click here.
Where did I get all my facts?
I pretty much copied them from RESOLVE‘s website. RESOLVE is a national organization that helps people who are dealing with infertility that I hope doesn’t mind plagiarism. I found my support group through RESOLVE. They have a lot more information on their website that I won’t copy here, so you should go check it out.
Don’t Ignore Your Options
Now that I got all the nitty-gritty out of the way and you know all the really basic stuff, it’s time to talk about options. When OccDoc and I were diagnosed with primary infertility (trouble conceiving our first child) our Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility specialist) laid out our options: keep trying unsuccessfully on our own, do an IUI which probably won’t work (his words), or do IVF with ICSI (where they inject one sperm directly into an egg). That was it. Those were the options. We got a price list, too. We are infertile because OccDoc’s sperm can’t fertilize my eggs due to poor morphology (they aren’t shaped properly).
I read so many blogs about infertility, and I have read about so many people who say their husband has ‘super sperm’ or something like that. Often times when Male Factor Infertility is the cause of a couple’s infertility, it’s glossed over (like on my blog) or not mentioned at all. Don’t Ignore Male Factor Infertility. My husband is infertile. His sperm isn’t shaped properly. No one knows why that is, but it’s not his fault. It could be from an infection he had as a child. Or a traumatic injury. Or because we don’t know. Or my favorite reason: blame the mother-in-law. One thing we do know is that we would have never known we were infertile until we had ourselves checked out. People, OccDoc’s plumbing works just fine. When someone asks me why I married my husband I usually feed them some line about him being nice to me or putting up with my crap; the real reason? I orgasm every time we have sex; yup, that’s the truth. Just because his sperm can’t fertilize my eggs doesn’t make him any less of a man, but that still doesn’t stop him, or anyone affected by male factor infertility, from feeling shame and guilt.
When we got our options well over a year ago we weren’t seeing the whole picture. Some options were left off the list. Most notably: Building our family through adoption. Or choosing to remain childless. Or using donor sperm. We should have asked if those were all of our options when we were first diagnosed, but we were shell-shocked. We couldn’t think straight. All we could think about was how uncomfortable the chairs were, how much money everything cost, and how gross it was to have sweat pouring down our foreheads and backs thinking about it.
But now we’re starting to have the fog lift and we’re starting to actually talk about all of our options. Now. A year after we started treatments. Over two and a half years after starting to try to conceive. Now. After we’ve drained our savings and spent all the money on a few rounds of IVF. Now is the time to look at your options. Don’t ignore your options, even if you don’t want to think about them or they’re uncomfortable to talk about. Do it. Educate yourself. Check out RESOLVE‘s resources. Email me. Talk to your doctor. Read blogs even if your doctor tells you not to (what do they know anyway?). Ask questions. Do whatever you can to get the information you need.
I don’t know how we are going to be able to create our family. Maybe the next Frozen Embryo Transfer will work. Maybe we’ll look at some of our other options. Maybe we’ll use donor sperm. Maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll say, ‘Screw it’ and decide to remain childless and travel and have lots of pets. Maybe we’ll come up with some other options.
But we can’t move forward if we don’t see the whole picture. We can’t see the whole picture if we’re ignoring some options. Don’t Ignore Your Options.