So without further ado -
Myth - “You’re infertile because of your lifestyle”
Busted! - “You work too much”
“You should eat more/less. You’re too thin/big”
“You worry too much. Just relax”
“You’re always away from home”
I’m not sure how many other women have heard these things from helpful friends and family, but I don’t know a single person that is/has experienced Infertility that hasn’t had someone tell them about some diet, exercise, stress relief, what-have-you that will aid in conception. It’s like they think that it is some lifestyle choice that we’ve made that is keeping it all out of reach for us.
So what could it be about my lifestyle that is so unreceptive to having a baby? Financially stable (ish)? Eating healthy? Having a decent balance between work and home? I just can’t figure it out. We’ve even made improvements in some areas that were a bit less than ideal when we 1st realized we may have a problem. We are both the healthiest we’ve been, far more connected and emotionally close than we were, and are ready in every imaginable way for a little one to call our own.
Like so many infertile couples, we don’t drink (much), smoke, do drugs, catch STDs, have wild weekend parties and benders or push our bodies to some other extreme limit. We are just an average, everyday couple, doing what typical married people do and start a family. Infertility is not because of some choice we’ve made or not made. We just have been dealt an unfortunate hand. Nothing we change in our perceptions or routines will magically knock me up without the aid of medical mojo.
Working too much, worrying, and not being at an absolute perfect weight are not preventing my unfashionably late eggs, or too short LP from being more timely. Working less and not worrying didn’t do anything to prevent the miscarriage, either as I took 2 days off work to enjoy "being pregnant" with my husband. None of those apply to the Boy’s boys as he’s almost always relaxed and does just what he has to at work without doing too much extra, and almost the same at home. Maybe his easy-going nature and chill demeanor is the reason his swimmers are too mellow? Finally! A downside to “relaxing”!
In all seriousness though, if lifestyle choices caused Infertility, there would be no babies born to strung-out, overdosing moms; athletes wouldn’t be able to reproduce; and teenagers and college kids wouldn’t “accidentally” get pregnant from that one night stand they can’t remember after that wild party. In fact, if more people practiced our general and reproductive health choices, there wouldn’t be Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, birth defects from lack of folic acid and other vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, or babies that are abused, starving or homeless.
If there was some fault in our lives that we could change and not have to experience the heartbreak, pain, and anguish of Infertility, I’m sure all of us would do what ever was in our powers and abilities to fix it ASAP. If only it were that easy…
To suffer from Infertility is not a choice that someone makes by doing or not doing X, Y or Z. There is no change in our daily habits that can be made to magically make us fertile. By the point most couples have reached the “infertile” diagnosis, they have most likely already run the gamut of “What can we change or do to improve our chances” analysis on every aspect of their life and have probably exhausted every conceivable “fix”. At this point, Infertility becomes the lifestyle, working its way into every nook and cranny of our lives.
Infertility is not because of some inherent problem in how we are living our lives. No. We experience Infertility because of medical issues that plague our bodies. And unfortunately, there isn’t much that one can do on their own to repair or overcome what in their body is malfunctioning. That isn’t a choice that we can make. We can't just will or decide when our bodies work, and it can't be helped without the intervention of medical professionals, not to mention time, effort, money, blood, sweat, and tears.
The only choice we can make about Infertility is how we deal with it. We can choose to continue to have hope and move forward. We have a choice not to let it define us as women or men. We are able to choose to be happy (or sad or mad). We have a choice to reach out to other for support and understanding, to share our stories and have our voices heard.
*** My preliminary Myth Busting can be read over at The Ladies in Waiting Book Club. ***
*** More information about Infertility can be found at http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 ***
***For background and to participate in National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW), visit http://www.resolve.org/takecharge. ***
You can also bust your own myths - Go to Resolve's Bust an Infertility Myth Submission Guidelines to see how!