Why We Need to Take the Taboo Out of Infertility
“The Silent Shame.”
That’s the title of a Time article discussing male infertility.
Infertility, in general, is an often avoided topic of conversation. Male fertility even more so.
“Oh, you’re struggling to have kids?”
All too many times is there an awkward silence, followed by a quick change in conversation topics. It’s all hush-hush. Maybe the real problem lies with the fact that many people just don’t know what to say.
But newer generations are breaking taboos.
Whenever a person shares their trials and tribulations of infertility, people relate. And they reach out. It’s the beautiful side of the internet and the internet’s ability to connect worlds. If you don’t know anyone in person that can relate to your issues, chances are someone online has told their story.
But chances are you do know someone. I do. And it’s not something we should sweep under the rug and pretend like it doesn’t exist - or pretend like it doesn’t impact someone. The truth is that it does. Thus, the door to this conversation has been thrown wide-open, so let’s dive in headfirst.
Infertility is Normal
Surprise: It’s not a rare occurrence. 12% of women in the U.S. struggle with infertility issues - that’s about 1 in 8 couples.
And it’s tough. If you want kids, you often plan to have them by a certain age. In fact, by societal norms, it’s frequently expected by about the age of 30 for most women to be having kids or planning in the near future to have kids. It places added stress and pressure on the entire situation - which health-wise, it usually doesn’t help.
When it comes down to it and by the numbers, you likely know someone or a couple struggling with infertility. You might just not know it. But being open with your friends and family can help breach the topic and continue to pull this one out of the shadows. Show non-judgement on the it. In reality, it’s no one’s fault. But luckily, today offers more and more options for couples dealing with infertility.
There’s More Education Than Ever Before
While the sex ed curriculum could definitely up the ante on this one, the internet provides a space of vast resources. There are also fertility clinics which help when it comes to breaking the taboo further. Products also come with warnings if they may impact your fertility or not.
And from this education comes more options for treatment. Sometimes, it takes more time. Other times it takes trying different methods.
Areas for improvement? As aforementioned, sex education could include a little more info on this topic. Many individuals hit adulthood with the common misconception that it’s easy to get pregnant. But for many people, it’s not.
It’s Not Just a Female Issue
Yes, the woman is the one that gets pregnant. But it’s not solely a woman’s problem. It affects men too. 50% of couples who can’t get pregnant find out it’s due to the men’s infertility, not the woman’s.
Yet, it’s often referred to as a primarily woman’s issue, and that’s often where the burden and stigma are directed. However, for male infertility issues, surgical options and medications are also available. That’s also why people are talking about it more. It affects the couple as a whole. It’s not exactly a straightforward issue or a one-sided issue.
We Are Becoming More Accepting of Others’ Decisions and More Open
Many people have strong opinions when it comes to fertility anything. But in all seriousness, if it’s not your problem, can you really enforce your opinion? No.
On a positive note, many people are becoming more open-minded. We are becoming less conservative and better at expressing non-judgment. Judgement often comes from a place of misunderstanding. As we understand more about infertility, judgement tends to trickle away. Instead, compassion and empathy are offered in its place.
We’re beginning to also understand more as more people speak out about it. The more stories you hear, the better understanding you gain. From those who’ve spoken out, generally, we understand why people feel shame around infertility. Pregnancy is supposed to be a natural thing. It’s also biological. And when it becomes a challenge, it becomes wrapped in the feeling of not being good enough.
So, if someone you know is struggling, offer an ear to vent to or cry to. Show them you care and seek understanding on the topic. Most importantly, express non-judgment. It’s one of the best things you can do.
How Can You Help Make Infertility Non-Taboo?
1. Show understanding and compassion.
As aforementioned, don’t judge. Judging is an easy go-to when you don’t fully understand a topic. Seek to understand.
Listen to stories of infertility.
Learn about it. And if you’ve dealt with infertility, share your story. The more stories there are, the better understanding there will be.
3. Advocate for more education on the topic.
Sex education is critical not only in preventing early pregnancies but understanding complications that can arise later on. Emphasis needs to be continued to be pushed when it comes to talking about and educating the general population on infertility.
4. Learn about it yourself.
If you aren’t sure of problems that can arise, there are a wide array of resources available to you - like the internet and Google. Educate yourself on the topic. Gain a higher level of awareness.
It’s Time for More Healing & Less Judgment
It’s time to start breaking taboos. We’re already on a good track. Let’s continue to pave the way for the next generation by talking about these tough-to-talk-about topics.
Infertility is real, and it’s common. It’s time to speak up. It’s not something to be ashamed of. Share your story.
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