There is hope for those struggling with infertility.
Our wedding was whimsical, and like any newly-wedded couple, we wanted to enjoy a year or two without kids, so I stayed on the pill for two years. We started having thoughts about creating a family, though, so I stopped the pill, and we started trying.
We did that for a year. Trying. Nothing happened.
I knew that something was wrong, so we decided to visit our doctor, who suggested we undergo a few tests. That's when we heard that there was a problem: We were experiencing infertility.
We felt as if the world came crashing down around us. We wondered why it had to be us. My doctor told us that with the right treatment, even people diagnosed with infertility had a great chance of becoming pregnant.
And she was right: I ended up getting pregnant, not once, but twice.
Through my experience, I slowly realized that everything I had believed until now about infertility were lies. These are the myths I believed.
1. If you keep trying, you will get pregnant.
It was our belief in this lie that prompted us to try so hard for a year. The only thing we were breathing and talking about through those months were sex and getting pregnant. We thought and assumed that we could get pregnant only by trying harder. Little did we know that there's more to fertility than the sex part because some things aren't in our control, and infertility is one of them.
If there's a physical reason for infertility, like in our case, it's challenging to get pregnant without first treating the cause. We soon found out after various tests that our infertility was due to where we lived.
We lived near a major roadway, and I suspect that the air pollution contributed to our infertility. Our doctor suggested we move. We moved and were put on medications, after which I got pregnant. I would have never conceived if we had just kept trying in the old house. Thanks to our doctor's tests, our move, and not believing in this lie, I got pregnant.
2. All you have to do is relax.
This is a huge myth many people believe about pregnancy and what we tried, too. We thought we were too stressed with our jobs and decided to go on a relaxing vacation, expecting a miracle.
I considered that emotional and physical stress could sometimes contribute to infertility, but we soon found out that physical causes also existed. And no relaxing vacation was going to take away that cause.
It was after trying for 12 months and six "relaxing" vacations that we decided to visit our doctor. This lie actually made me feel even more guilty about not getting pregnant. I not only had work stress but the stress of managing our home. I hardly found time to relax, and it added to my guilt…until our doctor found out the actual cause for our infertility.
3. It's always the woman who experiences infertility.
Like most women, I assumed that I was the problem. I would have slipped into guilt if our doctor hadn't told us that both men and women have an almost equal chance of experiencing infertility.
My husband was also tested, and that's when we learned that we were both experiencing infertility. I was in a way relieved that it wasn't "my fault," but it also got me wondering if there ever was a chance we'd get pregnant.
But our doctor gave us hope. She told us that we could still have a baby as long as we both got treated and continued trying.
4. Only older couples can experience infertility.
I was 24 and my husband was 26 when we got married, so we agreed to postpone getting pregnant. We thought that we could afford to wait for a few years because we believed only older men and women could be infertile.
However, we soon found out this was not true. We learned that while older couples struggle more with infertility, young couples aren't free of it, especially if there are physical issues present.
5. There's always IVF as a backup plan.
We always thought that we had IVF as a backup plan if we couldn't get pregnant for some reason or other. But we soon found out that things weren't so simple. We learned that there was no 100% guarantee that I would get pregnant through IVF. In fact, it was while exploring the possibility that we learned that the success of the treatment once again depended on my age and the quality of my eggs.
We also learned that there was only around a 30% chance of getting pregnant with an IVF cycle. And to make things worse, while the costs for IVF increased, the likelihood of getting pregnant reduces with each cycle.
There are so many treatment options for infertility, and it's hard to know which ones could work for you. This is why meeting with a specialist is so important because they can help you sort through the options and figure out the next best step for you.
6. Infertile couples can't get pregnant on their own
This was the biggest and last lie I stopped believing once I got pregnant after a year of treatment and trying. We thought that I couldn't get pregnant naturally. And we thought we only had IVF as an option.
Our doctor explained that while the odds of getting pregnant were small for couples experiencing infertility, it wasn't necessarily zero. It all depended on the cause of infertility.
And we were fortunate because we had a case of unexplained infertility. My doctors gave us hope, and with the right lifestyle changes and treatment, I soon conceived not once, but twice. We were blessed with an adorable baby girl, and my second pregnancy was unexpected because we weren't on any treatment. But I still conceived and had a healthy pregnancy to deliver a healthy boy.
We had practically lost hope, but once we learnt the cause for our infertility we could work at resolving things with our doctor's treatment and advice.