We received an email recently from a woman, who was trying to conceive for just over 2 years. She has asked to remain anonymous, but wanted to share her story with our readers, because she feels it is important that women realise that they are not always to blame, when it comes to infertility
“I want to tell my story because I hope it might save you from unnecessary blame, wasted time and emotional anguish. I am proud to say I am finally a mother, but I have been through so much heartache to get here. I wasted 2 years of my life and suffered incredible mental abuse because neither I, nor my family knew anything about the causes of infertility. With every month that passed, without a positive pregnancy result, I had the finger of blame from family members and friends pointed at me.
It was hard enough for me, to come to terms with the fact that I may live my whole life as a ‘barren woman’ without a child, but add to that, the shame because I hadn’t blessed my husband with a child, and the pressure from my peers, I honestly felt as though life really wasn’t worth living.
When my husband and I would spend time with my mother and father in law, I would see them looking at me with not only disappointment, but anger. I had let them down, by failing their son – for not blessing him with a son or daughter. I was good for nothing.
Soon enough, they could not hold back their tongues, and began to ridicule me. They would do it in front of other family members too. They said I was cursed. I believed them. I couldn’t even get any support from my own parents who told me that I had brought shame on the entire family.
But one day, over a friend of mine asked me about how I had been. I burst in to tears and explained that I was so desperate to become a mother. She asked me what the doctor had said the reasons behind my infertility were. I told her I hadn’t been to the doctor as I was too ashamed, and besides, what could they do for me anyway.
My friend frogmarched me to the clinic the following day. It was the moment life changed. The doctor asked me lots of questions, and said she would like to refer me and my husband to a fertility expert.
She explained to me that it was important that he have a sperm test, and that of all infertility cases, approximately 50% were down to the ‘male factor’ infertility.
I was very reluctant to ask to my husband to go to the fertility clinic because I thought he would be cross and ashamed, but I explained to him that the doctor had said that with the help of medical intervention we stood a very good chance of having the child we had dreamed about for years. To my surprise, he agreed to go.
To my even bigger surprise, test results showed that I was the only one to blame.
I was diagnosed with PCOS and my husband had very poor sperm mobility. At first, my husband went very quiet. He later explained that he felt shame upon himself – to have an issue with his sperm was like a blow to his masculinity. He also said he felt ashamed that I had been blamed this whole time.
To try and offer him some comfort, I did some digging. I found a quote by Dr Jyoti Bali, an infertility specialist, and Medical Director of Baby Soon Fertility & IVF Centre shares
“We have observed that male infertility factor is the primary reason for the inability to conceive, especially between the age group of 29 to 35. They either have a combination of low sperm concentration or poor sperm motility, or abnormal morphology. However, due to social stigma, male fertility problems are considered secondary and most often go undiagnosed and untreated.”
I hoped that if he realised how common infertility was in men, he would not feel so ashamed of himself. I also made him explain to his family, armed with these facts, that I wasn’t the only reason they were still waiting for a grandchild. He was reluctant, but he did it!
Following a round of ICSI, we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. We will never let her be the subject of ignorant abuse. People need to educate themselves to avoid heartache. If a couple have been trying to conceive for a long period of time, they should BOTH go and get checked out.
Even then, when you have a diagnosis, no one should be made to feel any sense of blame or shame. Infertility affects almost 27 million couples in India. This is an enormous amount of people who are all struggling to conceive. With the correct medical intervention, these people can become parents.