Let’s Beat Infertility Shame Together

I have noticed that fertility clinics are not chatty places.  I also hear many of my patients talking about why they don’t talk about infertility with others.  Why is that?

I think it’s infertility shame.

Maybe you already know what I’m talking about. Suffering in silence. Keeping your head down. Not telling other people in your life about the fertility struggles you are having because you are embarrassed. Feeling that there is something wrong with you. Learning through others’ stupid comments that it’s not worth trying to talk about it.  Infertility shame tells you that you are a failure because getting and staying pregnant are not happening in the way that you were promised.  That you are different. You are living in a bait and switch world.  We have all been told that you get pregnant any and every time you have intercourse.  Well, that story happens for some people, I suppose.  But if that was true of everybody all the time, the Earth would be groaning with the weight of trillions of people.

I’ve been there.

I never understood my reproductive “stuff” because doctors told me that everything was normal. Before I really even understood what intuition was, I knew that my reproductive stuff was NOT working correctly. Getting a period and bleeding for weeks and then nothing; repeat. Terrible cramps. Menstrual migraines.  You get the picture. It didn’t make any sense at all. And then…I tried to get pregnant.

My husband and I were told to use a basal body temperature thermometer and chart my cycle. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we: there was no obvious ovulation. Ovulation kits were expensive and the 14th day of my cycle was as crazy as any other day. I detested BBT thermometers. I remember my ritual with my husband of cursing them and throwing them in the garbage. By some miracle we were able to get pregnant, even with wonky ovaries.  And then… I tried to stay pregnant.

What I found out ultimately was that the bottom segment of my uterus doesn’t work when it has too much baby in it. My uterus was not meant to be pregnant, not really. Aha, maybe that was what my intuition was about!  I felt like a failure for not having a body that would make things easy and for putting a baby at risk unintentionally. It took me some therapy and some compassion for myself to learn that my wacko uterus and wonky ovaries were beyond my control. I have learned that my uterus may have been “defective”, but I sure as hell am not.

And you are not defective or a failure either. You have some intuition about your body, too. Something isn’t working, or maybe something isn’t working for your partner. That is nothing to be ashamed of. It is beyond your control. It is something to work on, or work through, or work with. That may be with a fertility clinic or an adoption agency.

Shame is personal. It’s the shitty things we tell ourselves about ourselves. You sure wouldn’t say shitty things about your neighbor’s body, right? For other people you have a sense of conscience and compassion. You are kind and empathetic (hopefully) and you offer to listen.

Here’s the thing: for you to listen, somebody has to speak. Now let’s turn that around so that you can start to beat down your infertility shame.

For other people to listen, you’ve gotta talk.  You’ve gotta let it out into the sunshine. Shame is the shadow in our lives. You have to talk back to your infertility shame and beat it by letting it out. Sometimes that is talking with family or friends or colleagues at work. Unfortunately, that may or may not end up being a good idea, depending on the often dumb responses from other people from other people. Going to a Resolve meeting near you or online can be a lifesaver. Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are great places to talk with other people, too.

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You are not alone! One in eight couples in the United States struggle with infertility. In Canada, it is one in six couples.

It’s time to work with your Self. Please stop saying shitty things about yourself and your body. Stop apologizing, or explaining, or justifying the fact that you are struggling with infertility. This is a physical, medical problem, just like cancer or thyroid disease. You did not bring this on. With help and compassion, you may be able to beat it.

So listen up. The best way to beat infertility shame is to do it together. You and your Self.  You and me. You and Resolve. During this National Infertility Awareness Week, April 23-29, 2017, let’s work together.

Let’s. Beat. Infertility. Shame. Together.  #NIAW #ListenUp


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  • Jennifer

    People are very reluctant to discuss infertility out of shame or feeling that they’ll be judged. It’s pretty deplorable that public health and private insurance recognize fertility treatments only as elective procedures as opposed to treatment for a medical condition. I have wasted more than 4 years and huge amount for medicine. And doctor asks to continue the medicine for few more years, mean time I found the Biotex clinic in Ukraine. We left there about 30k euros but it was worth it. But before we visited clinic I had completely breakdown. I kept thinking maybe I won’t get pregnant, maybe I have to change everything I thought my life would be. I found strength in posting hilarious memes, video confessionals and photos on my account to let women know they aren’t alone in their infertility struggles. And while I was doing that I evaluated my personal mental health and become much stronger. We made fun of IVF, because you have to joke about it or else you cry. We spent years and years undergoing treatments and operations and it was silly and ridiculous, so my main message is that women going through this aren’t alone. Ultrasound wands are funny, let’s be honest. If you can’t laugh about this stuff, you’ll lose your mind.


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