Infertility affects nearly 1 in 6 couples. According to a recent research report, the number of couples with infertility issues globally was nearly 50 million. Think of everyone you know -- your friends, relatives, coworkers -- and chances are that many of them have silently struggled, or are currently struggling, to conceive.
When we decided to start a family, we never considered the possibility of not being able to get pregnant. It didn't occur to us that so many people found it difficult to do what we'd been taught since our teenage years only takes one mistake.
Why didn't we realize it was an issue for so many? Because people rarely talk about it. There are four main reasons infertility is a hushed topic:
Trying to conceive, and failing at it, involves sex. And talking about sex is taboo in our society. Even close friends who can tell each other anything don't usually talk about what goes on behind closed bedroom doors -- unless you're a character from Sex and the City. To be infertile means having unprotected sex for more than a year without conceiving. And there's that word again. Sex. The topic we don't talk about.
EXPECTATIONS OF MOTHERHOOD
Most of us are brought up with the expectation that we will be mothers some day. There is a stigma for those who cannot bear children. We've come a long way since the stone ages, but it is still there. And it's another reason why many women don't share their challenge to conceive.
I didn't feel like a failure when we were going through infertility. I understood rationally that infertility was a disease, like cancer. That it wasn't something I should blame myself for. Or be ashamed of. However, that didn't make it any less painful.
There is a sort of masculine pride to becoming a father. In our culture, masculinity and sexuality are closely tied. Talking about infertility isn't the most macho conversation you can have. But I do it anyway, because I feel for the all of the other guys who are riding the infertility roller coaster. Most men stay silent on the topic, and that may not be a good thing. Infertility can impact a man's psyche just as much as it does a woman's, even if we are less open about our feelings.
INFERTILITY IS AWKWARD
There are many reasons couples stay in the closet about their failure to conceive. Infertility is awkward to talk about. It shows weakness. It often results in pity. It is hard for anyone who hasn't been through it to understand the pain. People still say insensitive things, even when you've shared your secret.
Reasons aside, it is time to break the silence. We're passionate about helping other couples navigate through the journey of infertility because we understand how hard it is to be in those shoes. We've been there. We get it. And so do the millions of others who have walked this path.
You are not alone.