Infertility can be an incredibly isolating experience. Though one in eight couples in the U.S. are affected by infertility, there’s still a lot of stigma around the condition, making it difficult to talk about openly.
If you’re struggling in silence, know that you’re not alone. There are so many people out there who can sympathize, and we’re all in your corner. If you’re looking for practical advice, empathy or just a bit of humor, take a look at the 14 helpful reads below.
In the first episode of IVFML, a HuffPost podcast miniseries about infertility, health editor Anna Almendrala and her husband, comedy writer Simon Ganz try to make a baby, but things don’t go as planned.
The very definition of TMI, Anna and Simon use their own story to talk about all the hilarious, depressing, ridiculous, and expensive travails of trying to have a baby, from questioning one’s fundamental worth to putting up with other people’s opinions about your reproductive choices.
About one in eight couples in the U.S. struggles to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. This is about the same ratio of women who will develop an invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and the same ratio of men who will develop prostate cancer.
Yet there’s not nearly as much recognition or awareness about infertility as there is about these other common diseases, in part because infertility remains shrouded in secrecy, much like cancer was decades ago.
With open communication comes education — a free-flow of ideas and information. With education comes rights — insurance coverage and other workplace benefits. With insurance and benefits comes safer, more measured decisions about how to pursue building your family.
Fertility is one of the few medical fields that has long focused on the experience and needs of women. Yet there’s a growing awareness that men suffer from the emotional ups and downs of infertility treatments, too.
Men also grieve pregnancy loss and failed IVF attempts, deal with financial stress from the high cost of treatment and wrestle with feelings of failure and disappointment, especially if they’re the infertile ones.
People who try and address secondary infertility often try to offer “perspective” on the situation, which often takes the form of the dreaded, “Well, at least you already have a healthy child.” Of course mothers know that. They also physically ache for another baby. Those two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
20: The percentage of infertility cases that have no identifiably known cause.
″‘Your time will come.’
Yes, hopefully someday it will. But I was hoping my time would come over two years ago, when we first started trying, and I was watching everyone around me posting pictures of their cute little baby bumps, and their precious little ones coming home from the hospital. Sure my time will come…but I want this now.”
“This letter isn’t about me or my struggle. It’s about yours. The woman who is tracking every period and every ovulation cycle on her iPhone app, plotting the days and times you have sex and has enough ovulation and pregnancy test sticks to last her through Armageddon. To the woman who has a savings account, not for that vacation to Fiji or for the new car she’s been meaning to get since graduating college, but instead dedicated to future IVF treatments. To all of these women, I am here to say that this year, on Mother’s Day, you are not forgotten.”
If you had to go through fertility treatments to conceive, you’re probably used to having to see the doctor weekly, sometimes even daily. For an uncomplicated pregnancy, many women are shocked to learn they only need to see their obstetrician once or twice each trimester until the third one.
“If I could punch infertility in the face for you, I would.”
“I hope they see that their hidden journey isn’t hidden to everyone. It’s one that many face every grueling two weeks at a time.”
Infertility affects about one in eight couples in the U.S. About one-third of the issues have to do with male reproductive issues, another third with female reproductive issues and the remainder either a combination of both or unknown reasons.
Yet, despite the seeming parity of problems on either the male or female side of infertility, it’s clear that most treatments are focused on women, and most discussion of infertility revolves around the woman’s experience.
Much has been made of the high cost of rearing children in the United States, and rightly so. Families spend more than $230,000 on average to raise kids from birth to age 17 — a figure that doesn’t include the cost of college.
But for the 6.9 million women who have turned to fertility services, the bills pile up well before they ever hold a baby in their arms.
We’re not entitled to know a single detail about a celebrity’s personal life — much less their medical history. But stars who have chosen to come forward about their experiences with in vitro fertilization and gestational surrogacy are playing an enormous role in helping to destigmatize infertility.
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- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.