We live in an age wherein fewer and fewer topics remain taboo. In today’s world, so many issues are becoming openly discussed and debated for the first time, opening up the possibility for a greater understanding on all sides and -- perhaps -- even some necessary steps forward in the near future.
However, despite this fact, some facets of the human experience remain hidden in the shadows, and the reality behind it is seemingly trapped behind discomfort or simply an unwillingness to broach what may wind up being the productive conversations that can shed much-needed light on a particular issue. One such area that is so often ignored in these conversations is that of infertility treatments, though it’s not hard to imagine why that’s the case.
For couples grappling with fertility issues, this situation can be a true nightmare. Infertility treatments can be invasive, expensive and incredibly soul-crushing. Yet, despite the valid reasons that people may have to keep their infertility battle a secret, the best way to combat the larger ramifications that accompany these treatments is to be open about what you’re facing and cultivate a support system among people in your life.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, roughly 10 percent of couples within child-bearing age encounter some level of infertility. That’s a fairly significant number, considering the absence of discussion surrounding the issue. Here’s why we think no one talks about infertility treatments anymore and why these reasons are worth overcoming.
The Most Personal Struggle
Almost certainly, the most common reason why couples don’t talk about infertility treatments is because of the intensely personal nature of it all. Reproduction is something that our bodies are naturally designed to do.
So, whenever this function doesn’t come off without a hitch, it’s not much of a stretch for those involved -- male and female alike -- to feel as if there is something wrong with them, that they are somehow defective or less than, despite the apparent fact that this situation is out of their hands and due to no fault of their own.
Add to that the fact that overcoming infertility can often be a years-long struggle, and you can only imagine the kind of toll that this crushing disappointment first in your body and then in the continued attempts to achieve conception.
But infertility treatments don’t have to be quite such a scary endeavor.
Yes, the prospect of not being able to have a child is a terrifying one to many hopeful parents-to-be, but infertility treatment is the perfect time to break down each of these fears. Only by expressing them out loud and to family, friends or medical professionals can you address them head-on.
When you vocalize your fears, you’re refusing to let them dictate your decision-making process, giving yourself a respite from the constant swirl of negativity within your own head. If you never talk about it, you’re dooming yourself to failing to realize that your personal struggle is an incredibly common one shared by many individuals who ultimately did find the very same success you’re striving to reach.
Having a positive mindset in the face of adversity will work wonders on your treatment and serve as a soothing balm for your self-blame and other internal factors that will only make the difficult road ahead that much more treacherous.
Myths and Misconceptions
Perhaps one of the most dangerous ramifications from the lack of conversation surrounding infertility treatments is that the problem-solving aspect becomes so much more elusive. What do we mean by that? Well, unfortunately, infertility has become such a prevalent problem that countless myths and misconceptions have cropped up surrounding the best way to boost fertility levels and conceive the child of your dreams.
However, in many cases, this advice is just plain wrong and, in some instances, could actually damage your chances of beating infertility. Without the right information to guide you, you could be undermining the effectiveness of your treatments and setting unrealistic expectations for what follows. This will only set your progress back further and create confusion as to how you should really be proceeding.
Thanks to the age of technology we live in, virtually any information is just a few clicks away.
That doesn’t mean, however, that a simple Google search on infertility will unlock the secrets that will help you expedite the long and often tedious process that may be involved in your infertility treatments. On the contrary, misinformation can be one of the greatest deterrents to a successful treatment.
Don’t let any misplaced confidence in information stand in the way of conception. Instead, convey any questions about infertility to anyone who will listen and who you are comfortable discussing it with. Ideally, this would be a fertility specialist, but it’s never a bad idea to have open conversations with loved ones or even a support group for people in your situation.
The important thing is that you feel confident that you can bring any and all questions to the right people so that you make informed decisions every step of your journey.
A Lingering Stigma
The conversation surrounding infertility is something of a vicious cycle. Although many individuals and couples undergoing infertility treatment don’t feel comfortable openly discussing it due to the persistent stigma, the very act of not talking about it only further perpetuates the shame that is already so closely associated with infertility.
This is especially the case when it comes to male infertility, as the concept of masculinity contrasts with the perceived ability to conceive a child. Nevertheless, such stigmas develop over time because of our inability to get to the truth behind a given issue.
With all that is involved with infertility treatments, now is precisely the wrong time to exacerbate the situation by giving in to pressure and limitations that society puts on you. You’re far better off undercutting the stigma against infertility by talking about your struggle openly and often.
Even though misconceptions and personal struggles will stand in your way, the fear that society will somehow judge you for your difficulties with infertility might be the most crippling of all. It may sound cliche to reiterate that you are not to blame for your fertility situation, but it’s true and bears repeating again and again.
There’s no shame in trying to overcome the circumstances life has presented to you. So you shouldn’t ever feel like the world around you is critically judging you every step of the way. Anyone who is going to criticize or deride your efforts in any capacity clearly doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
You might want to consider distancing yourself from that kind of negativity so that you can forge ahead with those supportive of your quest and maximize your chances for a successful treatment and a healthy baby when all is said and done.
The Fear of Failure
The realization that you and/or your partner have an uphill battle to overcome infertility is a heart-wrenching one, to be sure. But, in the minds of many who have faced this dilemma, the only thing that could possibly be worse is the fear that medical treatments still won’t work.
As a result, many couples opt to keep their infertility treatments -- once they are brave enough to begin them, that is -- secret for this one reason alone. Few things are more frustrating than facing months or years trying to accomplish your goal, only for it to be unceremoniously snatched from your grasp. So it makes a certain amount of sense that couples undergoing infertility treatment would want to keep this pursuit to themselves or to a select few until such time as their efforts finally pay off.
The trouble with that is the amount of time that goes into it. Sometimes, the first cycle of treatment simply doesn’t take, leaving you to face the unfortunate prospect of starting from square one all over again. In the meantime, you’ll find yourself and/or your partner becoming increasingly weary, disgruntled and burdened by the seemingly futile work you’ve both put into making your dream of having a new baby a reality.
There’s a very real necessity for a support system and a safe space with which you can voice your concerns, ask any questions or just simply vent about the toll all of this has taken on your emotional well-being, your relationships or even your ability to carry out everyday tasks. Failure may be a possibility in your case, but you can’t focus your energy on this fact if you’re going to emerge from a successful treatment. Fear of failure will only hold you back.
Infertility treatments may be aiming toward the endgame of conception, but at their core, what the process is really about is hope.
- You hope to create new life.
- You hope for a brighter, happier future.
- You hope that you and/or your partner are strong enough to see it through and emerge from treatment as a stronger family than you were going in.
These are all beautiful dreams, and infertility treatment offers an increasingly positive outlook for patients, thanks to the latest developments. Still, if you have to endure months and years of trying to conceive, multiple rounds of treatment and that all too familiar disappointment that comes along with it all, your hope is liable to be put to the test in a way it hadn’t before.
Even the most positive people may find their outlook beginning to crack under such duress.
Maintaining a hopeful veneer is often easier said than done, but communicating the experience to those around you makes all the difference. Bottling up emotions only amplifies the negative side of it all. One way to make the most of your infertility treatment is to take great care in the fertility specialist from whom you decide to receive treatment.
The more attuned to your specific needs your doctor is, the better they’ll be able to provide you with the guidance you need to stay positive, hopeful and constantly looking for that next step that will bring you closer to conception. With as intense an experience as infertility treatment, you may not be able to wholly control your emotions, but letting them out can make the whole experience that much easier. We can’t overstate this enough.
So, if you’re not satisfied with your current treatment or don’t feel like your voice is being heard, you may wish to consider seeing a different fertility specialist sooner rather than later.
Start Talking Now
We truly hope that our description above can help demystify the rationalization involved in why so few people struggling with infertility actually speak up about this issue. Yet, all of our discussion on this intensely personal and sensitive topic will do no good unless it inspires real action both among those couples who are dealing with infertility as well as those within the medical community itself.
To truly make the desired headway and help couples achieve their dream of conceiving a child, it’s essential that any hang-ups, insecurities and doubts are cast aside, paving the way for a frank, honest conversation about everything that’s involved in infertility treatments.
While it may be seem like an insurmountable quest at first, achieving fertility is one mission that requires all the help you can muster.
After all, the process itself can yield some nasty mental and emotional scars. So, chances are that most couples simply keep their infertility struggle to themselves simply out of self-preservation.
But remember: pushing ahead with infertility treatments despite the absence of promised results is one of the bravest things a couple can do.
To accomplish something great -- like creating a baby -- oftentimes it requires one to push further than ever before, past the fear and anxiety that a process like infertility treatment may inspire. Only by shuffling past worry of judgment or failure can you ever hope to make your infertility treatments as successful as they can possibly be.
Most likely, you’ll even discover that you’re not nearly as alone in your fight as you originally thought. Get started on your journey and make an appointment with the Center of Reproductive Medicine today.