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[Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption 9] Infertility Tries Patients Patience

Last week was Mother's Day. And once again I watched a lot of people around me hurt.

Mother’s Day, like all holidays, can be difficult for some. Those who have lost or are estranged from parents or children feel tinges of pain on the day set aside for honoring mothers. Yet the infertile find Mother’s Day particularly painful. For them it serves as a reminder of the gift they long to have but that continually evades them.

Last week was Mother's Day. And once again I watched a lot of people around me hurt.

Mother’s Day, like all holidays, can be difficult for some. Those who have lost or are estranged from parents or children feel tinges of pain on the day set aside for honoring mothers. Yet the infertile find Mother’s Day particularly painful. For them it serves as a reminder of the gift they long to have but that continually evades them.

The subject of infertility is surrounded by many myths. So we'll look at some questions/answers that help us put a few of them to rest:

Are infertility and sterility the same thing?
Infertility is not sterility. Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected relations and/or the inability to carry a pregnancy to term (600,000 women miscarry in the U.S. each year). Secondary infertility is the diagnosis when couples who have had one child (or more) are unable to conceive or carry to term again.

What causes infertility?
Common causes of infertility in the female are ovulation or hormonal problems, endometriosis, anti-sperm or anti-embryo antibodies, blockage that prevents eggs and sperm from meeting, and structural or functional problems with the uterus or cervix. In men infertility is caused by poor sperm penetration or maturation, hormonal problems, and blockages of the male reproductive tract.

Is infertility on the rise?
Yes. The number of couples diagnosed with fertility problems is on the rise. Delayed childbearing and sexually transmitted disease are partially responsible. Environmental factors may also play a role.

Is infertility a woman’s problem?
The diagnosis “infertility” is shared about equally between men and women. About 30 percent of infertility problems are due to female factors, 30 are due to male factors, and 35 percent are a combination of both. The other five percent are unexplained.

Don’t infertile couples just need to relax?
Infertility is not caused by stress—but it causes a lot of stress for many couples. Ninety-five percent of the time infertility is due to diagnosable medical factors. More than sixty percent of couples who seek medical treatment will eventually have a biological child. The percentage is much lower for couples who do not pursue assistance.

Isn't it true that if you adopt you’ll get pregnant?
No. Adoption is not a cure for infertility. The chances of an infertile couple conceiving are unaffected by adoption.

Aren't couples going through infertility at least "having fun" trying to have a baby?
Fifty-six percent of couples experiencing infertility report a decrease in the frequency of their intimate relationship. Both women (59%) and men (42%) report a decrease in their level of satisfaction, and infertile couples overall report having five times the sexual difficulties of fertile couples.

About one in six couples of childbearing age experience fertility problems. If you have friends who are infertile, the best way to encourage them is to refrain from giving advice, especially if it involves one of the above myths, and instead to "weep with those who weep."

For more on infertility, listen to my Mother's Day (May 8, 05) conversation with Neil Tomba in Dallas: http://www.nbctexas.org/media/various.htm

Related Topics: Parenting, Women's Articles