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Infertility Awareness Week

(originally written 4/28/18)

Today is the last day of National Infertility Week. Infertility is something that has effected me personally, and I struggled with finding words to talk about it.

Female infertility is defined as a woman’s inability to conceive after 12 months of trying without any barrier methods. Though infertility can effect both men and women, I’ll be writing in regards to the female side since that’s where my experience lies.

According to Extend Fertility, this “disease of the reproductive system” affects approximately 1 in 8 women. There are different causes (such as endometriosis, PCOS, age) and severities of infertility. Some women who have been diagnosed with infertility are able to conceive naturally on their own. And others are able to conceive with help from marvelous modern medicine.

(I love infographics!)

I have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrom, commonly referred to to as PCOS. Despite the name, only a small percentage of woman with this hormone imbalance experience ovarian cysts. I am fortunately not had any cysts.

PCOS is a genetic disorder that begans to manifest itself around puberty. I was 13 when I started experiencing symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, anxiety/depression and excessive growth of dark course hair all over my body and face. I started taking an oral birth control to help with the symptoms.

Here’s a fancy image which lists other symptoms (I experience most of these now).

When I was 19, I became pregnant despite using multiple barrier methods. I was terrified and excited because though I was young, I had thought from the time I was about 15 that I wouldn’t be able to have kids. I miscarried. PCOS has a very high rate for miscarriage. After that, I decided that I wasn’t going to use protective barriers anymore, and began looking into how to increase fertility on my own.

For the next 4 years, I did everything I could. Weight loss, cinnamon tablets, other vitamins, you name it. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I got an official PCOS diagnosis and began taking metformin. 8 months later, I became pregnant again. And 8 months after that, Fish was born.

Those 4 years were full of heartache. I was surrounded by others having babies. Often this new announcement came just after my personal disappointment of an arriving period, or a negative pregnancy test. I pushed away friends and family when they became pregnant because the hurt and jealousy I felt came out in cruel thoughts. Instead of being joyful that someone I cared about was bringing new life into the world, I was overcome with thoughts of “why them? They don’t/want deserve it”.

Sometimes those feelings still emerge, even though I have an awesome kid and I have no desire for more. It’s different now though. It’s like a frustration at the injustice that one person can so easily have multiple kids and be ungreatful for them, when others who desperately want children have to fight so hard for just 1.

Infertility is an emotional battle. In addition to the intense jealousy when it happens to someone else, there is also the feeling of failure and inadequacy as a woman to not be able to preform this basic biological function.