Monday, September 16, 2013

Parents (aka fertile people) just don't understand...

This post was inspired by a conversation DH had with a friend about IF treatments. Here's how the end of the conversation went:

Friend: I just don't think I could do infertility treatments, doesn't it take all the fun out of trying to get pregnant?

Hubby: (laughing) Dude, we still have sex.

DH took his friends question to mean that he thought that we couldn't have sex, although the friend might have meant that we are missing out on the "fun" TTC sex.  I think anyone who has TTC the old fashioned way (aka penis in vagina) for more than a few months will tell you that it is not always fun.  Either way his friend has some misconceptions about TTC/IF.  This got me thinking about the common misconceptions that people have about infertility and decided to address some of my favorites.

Common Miscoceptions

1. If you do infertility treatments your going to have multiples.
When I told a coworker that we were doing infertility treatments, one of her first responses was, "OMG, does that mean you are going to have like 7 babies because the doctor put like 7 eggs back in?!"  I had to explain that (at that time) we were doing IUIs not IVF, and that even if we were doing IVF, no respectable doctor would transfer that many embryos.  Also, one of the reason women are monitored on fertility medications is to avoid higher order multiples.

First off most IF women don't go into treatments thinking, "yay! I'm gonna get twinsies!"  They go into it thinking, "Please just let me get pregnant."  Yes, infertility treatments increase your odds of multiples, but depending on the treatment, the odds are really not that high.  I believe I had read that the odds of twins with Clomid (popular fertility med) is only around 8%.  Of course injectables have higher odds and IVF carries the greatest odds since many times multiple embryos are transferred.  Because the success rates for IVF have gotten so high some docs are recommending SETs, or single embryo transfers.  Also it's important to note that IUIs at best only have around a 20% success rate and the national average for IVF is only around 50%.  Infertility treatments by no means guarantee pregnancy, let alone multiples.

2. Unexplained Infertility means nothing is wrong.

Coworker mentioned above now likes to ask me if the doctor ever diagnosed me with anything.  Um, yeah, he diagnosed me with Unexplained Infertility.

Fertiles, listen up.  If your infertile friend tells you that all of there tests are normal and that they were given a diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" do not say, "That's great that nothing is wrong with you."  There is something wrong, your friend is having trouble getting pregnant and the doctor can't explain why.  The doctor diagnosed unexplained infertility not "nonexistent" infertility.  It is hurtful when you downplay our problems.

3. Just relax/take a vacation/stop thinking about it and you'll get pregnant.

I'm not sure how the misconception that stress makes you infertile started, but let me reassure you that this is not true.  If it were true, no women in war torn countries would ever get pregnant.  Yes in extreme (and rare cases) stress can delay ovulation, but for the majority of infertile couple stress has nothing to do with why they can't conceive.  No amount of "relaxing" will help them.  Oh and please save your story about how your friends uncle's neighbor's daughter was having trouble conceiving and as soon as they stopped trying and relaxed boom, they were pregnant.  I am very happy for them, but their story has no impact on me.  Every couple is different and what worked for them, might not work for me.

Long story short don't tell us to relax.  It is not helpful and kind of insulting.  You are basically telling me that it is my fault that I haven't gotten pregnant.

4. Infertility means you will never get pregnant

Once when I made a comment about being infertile, I was told that I am probably not infertile.  I was hurt and angry that this person was downplaying my issue, but that is when I realized that she thought infertility meant barren, ie can't ever get pregnant.  Infertility is defined in a medical sense as the inability of a couple to conceive after 1 year of regular intercourse (or 6 months if over 35).  It includes many different levels of sub-fertility.  So yes, infertile couples can get pregnant, but probably require the assistance of a doctor.  Also if an infertile friend gets pregnant on their own, don't say, "Looks like you weren't infertile after all."  Infertile women may still be able to get pregnant on their own, but their odds are much lower (but definitely not 0%).

5.  Taking prenatal vitamins and/or folic acid helps you get pregnant.

For some reason fertiles think PNVs or folic acid are the cure to infertility.  While they are important to the development of a fetus and should be taken by anyone TTC, PNVs or folic acid does not help you get pregnant.

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