TMI Tuesday: Infertility. When your mind says yes, but your lady parts say no

Note from B: Lots of love to my girl Kate for writing this post for Clumps of Mascara. 

Take it away, Kate!

When Brittany wrote her TMI Tuesday post on visiting the GYN, I was shocked at how many women had said they had never been.

I don’t say that to shame anyone, it just… surprised me. My mother brought me to the gyno, probably at like age 15 or so? And I have been a regular ever since. My gynocologist and I have been in each others lives a long time. Like feet in the stirrups (sands through the hourglass, get it? Not funny? Ok sorry). Moving on.

My relationship with my crotch doc has become even more important as I age, especially when I decided I was ready to have children. It never even crossed my mind that there might be any trouble for me in that area. I was a healthy person overall, I was in touch with my body, I visited the Dr. regularly. I thought when I made the choice to have a baby – I would dim the lights, have some sexy time, and bada boom bada bingo! I thought it would be easy.

I was wrong. TMI? It shouldn’t be.

I did a quick search of “infertility statistics” and the CDC gave me this:

Number of women ages 15-44 with impaired ability to have children: 7.3 million
Percent of women ages 15-44 with impaired ability to have children: 11.8%
Number of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile (unable to get pregnant for at least 12 consecutive months): 2.1 million
Percent of married women ages 15-44 that are infertile: 7.4%
Number of women ages 15-44 who have ever used infertility services: 7.3 million

Um, is it me, or is that A LOT OF WOMEN!? Why is this not talked about more often?

Unfortunately, having children is not just a given for every woman. For many, like me, it can be a struggle. I suffered two losses, and the emotional pain made me search out others who might know how I was feeling. I didn’t have to search far. Friends, relatives, neighbors…MY OWN MOTHER, shared stories of loss and struggle. I was shocked. Why was this all kept so secret? If I had a disease, such as cancer or diabetes, there would be no shame. I would seek treatment and find support in my community. But sometimes, support for women who can’t concieve is difficult to come by. It is kept hush hush, as if it is your FAULT that your body is not cooperating.

I was lucky – I had a wonderful GYN practice who immediately referred me to a Reproductive Endicronologist (RE). I was comfortable with my body and all the procedures, as I was already a gynocological regular. I had success with IVF, and now am the mother to 2 beautiful children. And I am not ashamed at all. I will tell anyone I meet I had IVF – what is there to be embarrassed about? It made me a Mom.

It is so very important that we TALK about these things, that they are NOT TMI topics. Take care of your body. Take charge of your reproductive health. VISIT YOUR GYNOCOLOGIST. Even if you are not even close to ready to have children, a good relationship with a GYN will make things so much easier when you ARE ready. And if you are struggling to conceive? You are not alone.

Did I convince anyone to take the plunge and get to the doctor? I hope so!


From B: Have any of you dealt with infertility or miscarriages?  And I know it sounds weird but while I’m not trying to conceive yet, I secretly have a fear of not being able to when the time is right. Anyone else have that fear? 

  • Great post!
    B, I was like you years ago. I got married at 24 and babies weren’t on my mind at all! But as some time passed I did worry about having trouble. Especially being surrounded by many who did.
    But at 28 it did happen 6 months after stopping the pill.
    I do think it is important to talk with your gyn about your concerns and options. Now that I am 33 I am on the other side wondering when it is time to put up the no vacancy sign……..

  • I’ve had two miscarriages. As children bore me and and I also don’t consider a fetus equivalent to a full-term child, in the story of my life, this was probably for the best.

    Still, I felt grief over the loss of those two little sparks of life. As a Buddhist, I don’t even kill spiders! So being the “cause”, as I saw it, of two sparks leaving the world was difficult for me to cope with.

    What did help was meditating on the Buddhist principles of impermanence (nothing lasts forever. nothing) and expectations (don’t have any, cuz the universe is not obligated to give you jack, no matter what societal mores and advertisers tell you).

  • I totally agree that this topic needs to be discussed more. I have no idea why it’s so scary but it is. I had no reason to think or believe that I was infertile but Lord did I fear it. I would have nightmares that one day I would be “that barren woman”. When I got married we didn’t start trying for a baby immediately. We wanted to enjoy just being the two of us but in the back of my mind I was secretly worried.
    Then I discovered that contraceptives were not my friend and I did what a lot of women wouldn’t dream. I came off of them and trained myself in natural birth control. Yeah. So each month I was playing the game of “Will madam rouge show up?” 2 years it worked for us. 2 years I wondered if I was fooling myself but then one day bang in the middle of my cycle we kind let things ride (if you know what I mean…) and weeks later a stick told me I was pregnant. WHAT A RELIEF!!!

    I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had just gone to the doctors and had myself checked out. Praise the Lord that I wasn’t barren but seriously I say go to your doc if you are worried. No point stressing yourself about it.

  • “From B: I secretly have a fear of not being able to when the time is right. Anyone else have that fear? ”

    That is super normal.

  • B, you know what happened at 16 and at 20. I am soooooo terrified of not being able to have kids. Im 26, eggs getting older, and personally, its a BIG wake up call for me. So yeah, with miscarriages and what not, I am afraid.

  • Susan

    One thing to remember is that women can have a MRTHF gene that can make it difficult to get pregnant or to miscarry. I have this gene and wasn’t told about it until a few years ago. This is something doctors should look into. There are many possible reasons but I find that many doctors aren’t as aware of these things as you might think

  • This is an amazing post. I’ve done a lot of research about infertility and I’m shocked by how many people it effects.
    One thing I do want to add is that men are often times forgotten. Just as many men have infertility problems, they need to get checked out too!

  • Sarah

    I’m not interested in having children myself, although this topic doesn’t really concern me I just wanted to say thanks for these TMI Tuesdays – something that keeps your blog up on my favourites. A lot of these things should not be considered TMI and it’s good to have someone discuss them openly, so thank you!

  • Evie

    This post hit too close to home. I’m 29 been married for 2 years now and we have been trying ever since we got married. I had 2 miscariages last year so 2011 was really rough emotionally. I have the option of going through IVF but I dont want to take that route yet. I truly believe that it will happen in Gods time, I have not given up hope and I stay as possitive as possible. We talk about everything else but infertility is a topic most people dont like to talk about.

  • After I became paralyzed, I wondered if I would have difficulty becoming pregnant or how it would be, but I had a beautiful baby girl after a smooth pregnancy and life-threatening delivery. Sn: Great minds think alike because I just blogged about this yesterday.

    Anyway, there are so many options available now that weren’t around many moons ago (biological or not) that we need to remain optimistic. I’ve never miscarried, but I don’t think my body can handle another pregnancy. If I decide to become a mother again, I would definitely explore surrogacy or adoption.

  • MJ

    Remember last fall, the Facebook meme about “awareness”- ‘I’m 6 weeks and craving Twix’ or whatever? It created a lot of bad feelings, precisely because so many women are sensitive about fertility issues.

    My mom had 5 kids- and at least 5 miscarriages. After menopause she was diagnosed with the MTHFR mutation- both her copies of the gene were mutated. I think our family would have been different if she’d found out earlier!

    I myself miscarried my first. It was rough. I have two children now, but I was scared almost the entire duration of both pregnancies. I found support with a good friend, but I totally agree this subject needs to be discussed more, and we women need to be there for each other!

  • Samantha

    I can’t put into words how this post truly blessed my life. It really put me in the mind of how you know there are thousands/millions of other people with similar problems, but you feel like the only one. I found out 2 years ago that conceiving naturally was not an option for me. I suffered several cyst ruptures and as a result of an appendix rupture when I was 14 (who is thinking about kids then?) both of my Fallopian tubes were dilated, meaning they are blocked with scar tissue. The diagnosis floored me and the solution is to take both tubes and try In Vitro. Devastated does not even begin to express what I felt. I was so angry with God and did not understand why he let this happen to me. And if you want to be 100% honest, me and my hubby are hard working, but how are we going to afford $17,000 for fertility treatments?
    My prayer was just for God to give me strength to walk what ever path he was setting forth for my life. My husband and I have only been married 2 years, together for 6 and we are not ready now, but I would be lying if I said I was not afraid for when the baby talk gets serious

    I hope my testimony blesses someone’s life and who knows maybe through this I can develop a support system

    • UrbanMommy

      You have cysts, I have endometriosis. After two years of trying, we realized something wasn’t working… I think I was in denial and hoping each month something would happen. It didn’t. The endo – when endometrial tissue grows out of your uterus and onto other internal organs – scarred my fallopian tubes and made it impossible (without a miracle) for us to get pregnant on our own. IVF was the only way.

      I didn’t want to go down that route – it’s a toll emotionally and financially – but we did. It was hard. The hormones and drugs make you crazy. The medication is crazy expensive. One cycle later, we got pregnant and I’m expecting our first this spring.

      My family doctor didn’t believe that there was something wrong, but I knew that something was up. It took my husband’s doctor, a great RE and the grace of God to get us to this point. I say all of that to say this: if you think something is wrong, go to a doctor that you trust and you can talk to. Get checked out. If you have to go down the assisted route, there isn’t any shame. It’s expensive, but it can be worth it.

      I’m glad we’re talking about this. It’s still hard for me. Infertility is something – even when you get pregnant – that still stays with you. To all the ladies who are trying, best of luck.

  • victoria

    I’m sending you positive vibes because frankly I want you to eventually have Baby Clumps! I can see you and mini Brittany putting on mascara in unison!

    • Brittany

      XOXOXOXO x 4.

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