I went to a christian school my whole life. Rarely did we ever talk about or learn about sex. We were taught that sex is "bad" and leads to pregnancies (wanted or not). We really only learned about abstinence as the only option for practicing safe sex. I got my other information from the media and never really knew that infertility was a real thing. I mean if you just watch tv shows today the characters practically just have to look at each other and they get pregnant (Parenthood, Grimm, Secret Life, Nashville, etc).
It's no wonder that the world of Infertility is so unknown and a mystery.
The reality is, is that Infertility is real and the struggle is real. I had no idea how many people are affected by this discouraging disease or that I would be a member of team infertility. The problem is is that we fight our battle in secrecy (for whatever reason) which means that our friends, family and co-workers have no idea what we are facing and in turn we as a society don't get a good grasp on how many people are suffering. Because we are fighting in silence our voice cannot be heard. But each of our journeys are so personal and intimate its no surprise how quiet we are about it, the pain that goes with it can be unbearable at times.
So here is a quick rundown adapted from here.
1. Infertility can happen to anyone, generally if you have been having unprotected well timed sex for a year (if under 35) or 6 months (if over 35) with no pregnancy then Infertility might be the answer.
2. 30% of Infertility is considered to be female and 30% of Infertility is considered to be male. The other 40% that is left unaccounted for can be a combination or unexplained. (yay! don't we all want to be presented with "we don't know why your body sucks!")
3. There are some risk factors that could lead to infertility: weight, age, STDs, endometriosis, smoking and alcohol.
4. There are no signs or symptoms directly related to infertility. But if your cycles are irregular having a doctor check might give some answers to your fertility. Although if you have suffered from several miscarriages that could be a sign that your reproductive system isn't working appropriately.
5. Since Infertility isn't considered to be a life threatening disease most health insurance policies will not cover treatment/prevention/intervention. So this means that all procedures, doctors appointments and medications need to be paid out of pocket by the patient (and these bills are not cheap). Most initial doctor's visits run about $300 which may or may not include any bloodwork they wish to do. Then there are ultrasounds that run around $250-$500 each, the medications anywhere from $50-$1,000+ and any other procedures to see how the reproductive system is working (I had an HSG scan that cost $1,200) now that is a whole lot of money and sometimes the patients are still presented with "unexplained infertility" so all that money out the window and still there is no explanation as to why your body is being such a bitch.
6. So after you are diagnosed with Infertility (explained or unexplained) there are some options for how to grow your family. From least invasive to most: a) medication such as Clomid to get you ovulating with blood work to check your levels and vaginal ultrasounds to see your how your follicles are responding to the medication. b) if option a was unsuccessful you could do it all over again but when the follicles are the ideal size get a shot of HCG to encourage ovulation within the next 24 hours. c) again with a and b but then after the HCG shot go in for an IUI (intrauterine insemination) d) if those three options didn't work then you can go the IVF route e) use of donor eggs, sperm or embryo. f) surrogacy. h) Adoption. And again I want to point out that all of these options are not covered by most health insurance policies so patients will be paying for this out of pocket and if you have had to go through options a, b, and c it is possible to have spent close to or more than $15,000 then if you go the IVF/donor route you can add on another $30,000. Adoption can be another long and emotional process full of its own set of highs and lows costs can range from $5,000 to over $35,000.
I just want to point out again that Infertility doesn't discriminate. Anyone can suffer from it and the suffering is real, its emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual suffering and pain. Throw in a miscarriage or two and the seas get even rougher. Chances are you know at least one person (probably more like 15) who has felt the woes of infertility. They may be blessed with a success story, chosen to grow their family through adoption, or decided to live life without children. Be kind and remember the struggle is real, the disease is real.
basically what a negative test feels like