If someone you know is dealing with infertility, chances are you do not know it. The statistics state that 1 in 8 women are infertile and the overall statistic for infertility increases when you include male factor infertility. Infertility is a silent disease (and it is considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act).
Unlike other medical conditions, infertility is considered a personal matter of which many couples do not discuss with family or friends. In addition, the debate about whether the desire to have a child is a “lifestyle” choice instead of a “major life activity” continues. Ask anyone who has experienced infertility and they will tell you that having a child is not a lifestyle choice.
In March, the Arizona affiliate of RESOLVE hosted their third annual Walk of Hope. The first year of the event we had approximately 300 attendees. The second year this number dropped by half. For the third annual walk we were hoping to see an increase over the second year or at least maintain 150 walkers, but our numbers dropped again. It came to my attention that many individuals did not attend because they, “did not want to be a poster child for infertility.”
I want to know why there is such a stigma attached to infertility. In a recent article I read about a couple who was sneaking fertility treatments so that their family would not know they were using a doctor to help them get pregnant. Why the secreacy? Why the shame? I don’t get it because I share my story, when appropriate. My daughters know that their parents could not get pregnant and so we went to a doctor. I’ve even described how th doctor removed my eggs and some basics of the embryo transfer. It is not a secret and as my girls get older they will realize how much we wanted to have children and how precious they are to us.
I am an infertility survivor and I recognize that not everyone who experiences this disease has a child. It is heartbreaking. I’ve heard the argument many times – infertility isn’t a valid disease because it doesn’t kill you. Yet it is a medical condition that deserves respect and awareness. But how can we convince the general public to support us in a positive manner if we are not willing to do the same? At one time breast cancer was a taboo topic and now everyone, even large corporations, support the cause by raising money and awareness.
If you were never touched by infertility in your own life, do you have any friends who have stuggled to add a child to their family? How did you judge them? How did you support them?
by Kelly Damron
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