I have been working as an acupuncturist specializing in infertility for over 8 years now. If I told you all the stories of loss and despair that I’ve heard, you probably wouldn’t believe it. In summary, it is devastating to be told that you may not be able to have children. I know there are people who may not want children, but that is their choice. But to be told you may not be able to conceive takes away the freedom to choose. And when a couple who is struggling with infertility is asked, “when are you going to start having kids?”, it’s like pouring salt into the wounds.
One thing I see regularly, patient by patient, is that as a society we are very under-educated in regards to taking care of our bodies. Think about how many hours of schooling you needed in order to get a degree. Now compare that to how many hours of training you’ve received in regards to your health. For most people, they’ve had practically zero hours of training in how to take care of their body. To make matters worse, infertility is even more misunderstood than other diseases. As a culture we have a basic understanding of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure but when it comes to infertility, there are actually a multitude of issues someone could have. Infertility can be attributed to things like; a woman not getting her periods or not ovulating regularly, having blocked tubes or poor egg quality/quantity or having hormonal imbalances. There may also be male factors like low sperm count or poor morphology. The reasons for infertility are different for everyone and can also be very difficult to pinpoint
Our societal understanding of infertility is that a woman must “relax” in order to get pregnant. Over the years, I’ve found that stress can be a contributing factor to infertility but generally, it is not the only factor. One comparison I use for this is thinking that
someone needs to “relax” in order to have a bowel movement. Infact, having a bowel movement is the culmination of a specific series of processes in our bodies that our minds really have no control over. We can do everything we can to stay relaxed but we cannot force it, just like we can’t will ourselves into being pregnant. There are some disease that our minds are not capable of shifting. I don’t deny that relaxation and endorphins are good for the fertility client, but it’s simplistic thinking to assume that if all women would “just relax,” they would become pregnant.
The subject of whether or not a couple wants to have children is a very sensitive one. What I’ve hoped to shed light on is that the issue is not always whether or not they want to have a baby. So next time you’re speaking with a couple and are tempted to ask them when they are having babies (Moms and Grandma’s: I’m talking to you too!), please think twice. Even though your intentions are good, you may cause sadness and anxiety for your loved one. As with anything in our society, let us strive to become more educated and more compassionate to others. Because, as Plato says, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is in the midst of a great struggle”.