For many, infertility is an isolating experience. One out of every eight couples will experience it, and so far nearly eight million women have gone through fertility treatments – but most of them suffer in silence. Despite the growing incidences of infertility in the United States and across the globe, we just don’t talk about it the way we do with diseases like cancer. There seems to be a cultural lag in awareness and acceptance for those with reproductive health concerns. Even if it’s a problem affecting someone you care about, right now – because of the nature of the deep shame and suffering that goes hand in hand with infertility, chances are you might not know about it.
Women who are coping with infertility often just have a difficult time being in what used to be routine social situations.
This month, I am excited to partner with Beauty and Well-Being to bring some light to the currently difficult experience of infertility. As a reproductive health specialist for over fifteen years, I see a very isolated sadness in the treatment room. Women who are coping with infertility often just have a difficult time being in what used to be routine social situations, terrified someone is going to ask them the dreaded “Are you pregnant yet?” question. Day to day, I see a lot of grief, shame and jealousy.
Not only can this experience bring a woman or couple a very deep sense of personal pain, but suddenly they don’t feel like they fit into the society they live in anymore. All of the sudden, everyone ‘their age’ has a baby, and dinner conversations become increasingly difficult. Though none of this is their fault, they still blame themselves. So how can we start to heal?
It seems that the infertility conversation today is where cancer was 15 or 20 years ago. How did cancer go from shame and secrecy, to thousands clad in bright pink and marching together in support through every Main Street, USA? It all happens through awareness.
Sharing is the first step to creating a deep shift, in both the cultural view of infertility and the personal experience of it.
Awareness was the answer for cancer, because once individuals started talking about it, the space for compassion opened up. I envision the same being done for infertility, creating space for us to hold the hands of loved one’s through dark times, unwilling to let them suffer alone. Sharing is the first step to creating a deep shift, in both the cultural view of infertility and the personal experience of it.
Authentic communication can often create meaningful shifts when women do this kind of work.
I recommend finding a compassionate witness through a friend, a therapist, a trusted medical provider, or just someone who can hold a healing space for you. Authentic communication can often create meaningful shifts when women do this kind of work. With the right support, they can discover stillness within themselves – a space where they can just be in the moment and simply feel things exactly as they are, good or bad. I understand this is difficult with the demands and side effects of fertility treatments, but this is exactly why it is so crucial. Here is an opportunity to get quiet and meditate, and be honest with yourself and your feelings.
Having the right support will help you to shift internally. Think of this as a jumpstart to self-love; that’s where the healing starts, and it allows those around you to support and care for you. You will be less triggered by the world’s baby presence if you start to examine your relationship with yourself and you become more self-aware.
Our fertility stories can be used as a way to know ourselves more intimately, heal old wounds and create deeper meaning in our lives.
Know that this work demands a lot of courage, and the beginning of our healing starts with stillness, surrender, and sharing. This process can be difficult to verbalize, and nothing captures the magic of the process quite like a woman’s own story. In our next two posts, we’ll talk about a patient who didn’t end up conceiving, but, through stillness and surrender, she discovered inner peace and allowed self-love back into her life, and another patient who used her fertility journey to become a more empowered woman and mother.
Together, we can start to create stronger communities and support one another on a deeper level. Our fertility stories can be used as a way to know ourselves more intimately, heal old wounds and create deeper meaning in our lives.
This article was written by Angela Le for Beauty and Well Being.