Another month, and another negative test. Another month of crying and telling my spouse “not this time”. Another cringe as the cashier smiles at me when I slide the pregnancy test across the counter, even though I know it will probably be negative. More pregnancy announcements on Facebook. More baby showers and birth announcements. And none for me.
An estimated 1 in 6 Canadian couples will experience a struggle with infertility. Of those couples, 30% of the time it is a male factor, 40% will be female factor, 20% will be both, and 10% will be labeled “unexplained”.* For some, infertility will mean a difficulty in conceiving, while for others it will mean a struggle to carry a pregnancy to term. Regardless of what factors are contributing to the struggle of infertility, it is devastating for everyone involved.
Infertility can be a lonely journey.
If you choose not to involve family and friends in your difficulties, the constant “and when are you going to start a family?” can be a near constant source of pain. If you do open up to loved ones, their sympathy can be just as painful. One person you should be opening up to is your doctor. For couples who are 35 and younger, you should be discussing infertility after a year of trying to conceive, and for couples older than 35, you should be engaging in the conversation after 6 months of trying. You should always discuss recurrent miscarriages with a doctor, regardless of age.
In some cases, medications can help. In others, reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization will be required. Other couples will examine the possibility of donor sperm or donor eggs. If you need to explore these options, you will be likely be referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) at a fertility clinic. In many cases, an RE and reproductive assistance will help you to achieve your dreams of pregnancy.
Regardless of how or when in your journey you become pregnant, infertility is a difficult road. Not only lonely, but stressful as well, infertility can strain relationships and make you question everything. Remember that you aren’t alone and you can reach out for support. The Infertility Awareness Association of Canada has resources, clinic listings, and support groups that can help you on your way.