Why I Wish More Women Talked About Their Fertility Challenges
Every day, women experience pregnancy loss. Approximately one in five women with a confirmed pregnancy (meaning she already knows she's pregnant) will lose that pregnancy. These women are challenged by their infertility — physically, financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
In the United States alone, 6.7 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 (about 11%) have what the CDC calls “impaired fecundity,” defined as the “impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term.”
Based on these statistics, you'd think that candid conversations about infertility and pregnancy loss would be all over the internet and women would be having discussions in real life all the time about these subjects. But, aside from little pockets, these conversations are not happening as frequently as you'd think.
Unless you're one of these women, or it's happened to one of your close friends or family members, there's a good chance you don't know who is struggling with this in your social circles, nor do you talk about it.
There are many reasons for the lack of dialogue about infertility, among them:
1. Women are celebrated when they're carrying a healthy pregnancy to term. They're not celebrated when they lose a pregnancy or can't get pregnant.
2. Talking about it might make some people uncomfortable.
3. Women who have talked about it might experience an insensitive response, or even worse, a response that (unintentionally or intentionally) blames her for her experience or situation.
4. Many women (and men) who are experiencing infertility or pregnancy loss experience a deep sense of shame. In biblical times, when you couldn't conceive or bear a child, it was considered a sin. While that may not be the case in our culture anymore, there's still an underlying sense for many (in many cases, self-imposed) that there's something wrong with you if you are not able to conceive naturally or carry a pregnancy to term.
Over the last year, I've experienced three consecutive miscarriages, each subsequent one with slightly more embryonic/fetal development. After my second miscarriage, I started talking about it and writing about it. After my third one, I decided to support other women who are going through similar experiences.
Here's what happened when I started to share my experiences with miscarriage:
1. Other women — friends and acquaintances — came out of the woodwork to share their stories. This helped me to feel normal and have a sense of sisterhood.
2. I received tons of helpful suggestions and resources that I might not have found on my own, or that might have taken me many hours to unearth. I got enlightening and helpful information about various conditions related to infertility and pregnancy loss, which encouraged me to do even more research on my own.
3. I got inspired by women who had been in similar situations and subsequently had healthy pregnancies, births and children.
4. Some (only a few) people reacted insensitively. I am proud to say I did not take it personally. In fact, this inspired me to educate them on the prevalence of infertility and pregnancy loss and hopefully, normalize it a bit for them.
In the end, only good things have come from talking about it. I have found many resources around the physical and mental side of this issue. If you are in a similar situation, know that there are plenty of books, articles, and (depending upon where you live), multiple practitioners, both Eastern and Western who can support the physical side of infertility and pregnancy loss.
However, I've also found there are fewer resources about navigating the emotional and spiritual side of infertility and pregnancy loss, and they are harder to find.
If you are going through this alone or with few emotional and spiritual outlets, please register for my free call on September 18, 2014. If you know someone who is going through this (or might be) please send them this information.
I know it's hard to bring up, I know it's touchy. But I also know the benefits of getting support by bringing it out into the open — even if it doesn't directly affect you — are profound and life-changing.