What No One Tells You About Infertility

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About 10 years into our relationship, my husband and I decided to try to have a baby. I was 29 at the time. It took us over a year, but under two years, to conceive. I know that’s a relatively short time to be trying. At the time, though, I felt like I was the only person who wasn’t getting pregnant. It was a lonely and isolating experience. Now that I’m on the other end of it, it’s clear there is much about infertility no one speaks of which contributes to feelings of isolation. So, I’m here to talk about it. 

1Both Potential Parents Can Contribute to Infertility Issues

The first thing no one mentions about fertility is that both genders can contribute to infertility. I think women put a lot of pressure on themselves, thinking they’re the one who’s “not getting pregnant.” The truth is, both biological parents can contribute to infertility. According to the CDC, disruption of testicular or ejaculatory function, hormonal disorders, and genetic disorders can all contribute to infertility in men. In my case, my doctor checked my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and hormone levels. My doctor checked my husband’s sperm count. It was determined that neither of us had physical or hormonal factors that were contributing to infertility. 

2It Can Take a Long Time To Get Pregnant

According to the CDC, almost 20% of women have trouble conceiving within a year. That means for every five friends on your Facebook feed who are announcing their pregnancy, on average about one of them spent a year or more feeling disappointed and confused about why it was taking “so long.” I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to conceive quickly. Social media definitely contributed: It felt like every day, another person in my broader social circle was announcing they were pregnant. I had also previously believed that getting pregnant was so easy, that one birth control or contraception slip-up would immediately result in pregnancy. I quickly learned that was not true for me. Though, it can be true for others. 

3You’re Not Alone

At the time I was trying to conceive, I didn’t know a lot of people who were openly doing the same, though I did find some good communities via online message boards. Now that I am a parent and have more parent friends, a lot of them have opened up to me about their fertility issues and pregnancy losses. I now realize I was never alone. A lot of people are quietly enduring the confusion and disappointment of trying to, and not, conceiving, or losing pregnancies when they do conceive. 

I ended up being given a prescription for Clomid, a drug that can help treat female infertility. I filled the prescription and put it in my cabinet — I was supposed to take it at a certain point in my cycle, following my next period. That period never came. Somewhere after the tests and before the Clomid, I had conceived my daughter. When my daughter was born a few weeks early, a nurse asked me if I was sure about my dates, because she seemed bigger than expected for a three-week-early baby. I said I was positive, and told her about my infertility journey. She took my hand and, with tears in her eyes, said I had just given her hope. She had just crossed the threshold of a year of trying to conceive. She thanked me for sharing my story. 

The Bottom Line 

It’s my hope that by being open about the feelings I experienced during my journey, someone else might feel a little less alone. If you’re reading this and you’re trying to conceive, you’re in good company. There are so many of us who have felt this way. Be gentle with yourself. It is disappointing and can be disorienting to not conceive when you want to, but don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor if you feel like something isn’t adding up. And when you’re ready — if such a time comes — share your story. 

Tags: fertility, Mental Health

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Written By

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is an essayist, journalist, and fiction writer in Vermont, where she and her husband are raising their daughters. See Full Bio

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