“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance”
Did you know that National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is celebrated from 22nd -28th April? It’s not just an awareness week, it is a movement to reduce the stigma surrounding infertility and to raise awareness for those couples who need help.
Infertility is something that is not very rare and affects 1 in every 8 couples. Unfortunately, infertility is a topic that is rarely talked about and leaves many to suffer in silence. It can be devastating physically and emotionally to know that having a child or building a family is going to be difficult for you. Many men and women may feel hopeless and embarrassed by their situation. Therefore it is important to talk about infertility issues so that your problems are addressed at the right time.
A stigma surrounding infertility
Stigma – “a mark of shame or disgrace”. In the past infertility was viewed as shameful and demeaning. If a couple has problems in conceiving, the woman was thought to be at fault first. Couples undergoing fertility treatment are usually secretive or tell only their closest family members. Not being able to have a baby makes both men and women think they are failing. They usually deal with their pain in silence.
You need to understand how this stigma affects you personally. You may feel jealous seeing a pregnant woman or sorrow when you see children. You may even develop a state of depression or anxiety. It is important that you empower yourself to overcome this stigma, shame, and low-self esteem.
Listen to the biological clock
If you have been unsuccessfully in trying to get pregnant for more than 12 consecutive months it is high time you should seek help from a fertility specialist. To achieve a healthy pregnancy, a woman should be in her early 20’s, this is when she has the highest number of good quality eggs and there would be lower risks in pregnancy. If a woman is 35 or older, the couple might face issues conceiving.
Therefore it is advised you start a family at the right time. In case you are facing issues conceiving at a younger age you may require specialized treatments to address causes of infertility. In men, there is a decline in the sperm count seen with age. There are many lifestyle changes that you and your partner could make to improve your reproductive health.
Learn the facts
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions that surround infertility like who it impacts, what are the causes, and when you can seek help. You need to battle these misconceptions and learn everything about infertility and put that knowledge to use. You can even seek help and the right knowledge from a fertility specialist.
Causes of infertility
Infertility causes in men:
The most common cause of infertility in your partner is due to altered sperm production due to some abnormality. It could be due to:
- Genetic defects / DNA damage
- Bacterial or viral infections
- Trauma or surgeries on the testicles
- Overexposure to heat
- Exposure to chemicals or pesticides
- Steroid use
Infertility causes in women:
- Hormonal issues
- Abnormal growths like fibroids
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Exposure to chemicals or pesticides
What are the types of fertility treatments available?
You need to be aware of the fertility treatments available that can help you to conceive. Your fertility specialist will support you and can determine the best treatment option for you. Common fertility treatments include:
- Fertility drugs can be used to stimulate ovulation
- Surgeries can help fix blocked fallopian tubes or remove fibroids
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), is a procedure in which your partner’s sperm is directly placed into your uterus to facilitate fertilization. It is carried out around the time of ovulation helping the sperms to get closer to your egg. Intrauterine insemination can increase your likelihood of conceiving.
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment is an assisted reproductive technology in which mature eggs are collected from your body and fertilized with the sperm sample collected from your partner. When the embryo grows enough for implantation it is transferred into your uterus.
Knowing the causes of infertility and the treatment options available is beneficial for you and your partner. You can even talk to someone who’s been there and done that. Have a healthy conversation rather than keeping things bottled up. It will help you to reduce your stress and clear your mind.