Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NIAW Infertility Myth: "You are so young"

This is National Infertility Awareness Week. A week dedicated to raising awareness and support for the many families walking the road of infertility.

Resolve, the National Infertility Association, challenged bloggers to "bust a myth" about infertility this week. All the myth busting blogs are linked here.

I chose to bust the myth "you are so young". It is also posted on the Ladies in Waiting Book Club along with all the myths busted by fellow members.

“But You are So Young!”

“But you are so young.” I cringe every time I hear those five words. Actually, I cringe every time someone asks my age right after I say we are trying to have a baby because I know what is coming. “But you are so young”. Or a close cousin: “You have lots of time”. Infertility has been pushed off in society as a problem for “older women”. There seems to be a myth that young people don’t have ANY problem getting pregnant.

It simply isn’t true. Infertility does not discriminate, and it certainly doesn’t discriminate based on age.

This myth is based on the truth that women are born with all their eggs, the number diminishes at an increasing rate with age, and eventually the woman enters menopause. However, there are many reasons for infertility and not all of them are egg related or dependent. These can strike at any age.

My “infertility diagnosis” came at 25, just months after I married my wonderful husband. Everyone said I was “so young”. That was three years ago, I may still be young, but I am glad I didn’t wait until now to get started.

What the uninformed conversationalist doesn’t know is that I was first diagnosed with Endometriosis when I was 18. I had surgery for stage IV endometriosis at 19. I knew that having a baby was NEVER going to be easy and I was YOUNG. Women with endometriosis can have trouble conceiving because there are endometrial cells covering their reproductive organs. Endometriosis is often diagnosed in the late teen and early 20’s.

A later diagnosis on our journey was Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS). This condition has a whole host of symptoms including weight challenges, unwanted hair growth, irregular periods, and annovulation (failure to ovulate consistently). These symptoms can manifest themselves during the teen years shortly after a young woman goes through puberty. Women with PCOS can, and do, have children, but they will struggle even when they are young.

Another common infertility cause is a structural problem; this can include blocked or damaged tubes and uterine deformities. Women with this diagnosis often can only be helped through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Structural problems can be genetic or caused by trauma and can obviously occur at any age.

Couples that have male factor infertility face a whole host of other stigmas, challenges, and treatments. For these couples, it is clear that the age of the woman doesn’t matter at all. Telling a woman whose husband has low sperm count that she is “young” isn’t going to win any points.

There are some problems with female fertility that do get worse with age, but youth doesn’t automatically equate to easy conception. Personally, I am glad I started young, because I don’t see it getting any easier waiting until I hear “but you are so old”!

Learn more about infertility here.

1 comment:

Justine Noel said...

Excellent resources! Thank you for your boldness and speaking about what so many keep to themselves. :)