Why More Couples Don’t Talk About Their Fertility Challenges
April 25, 2015 – Experts Down The Hall – Ronald Feinberg
Source: CNN – April 10, 2015
Although the internet, media, and celebrities have helped to popularize fertility treatments in the public eye, infertility is still a very private topic for many people, according to a recent CNN article.
For the individuals who are staying silent, the article cites the reason may be because of feelings of embarrassment, shame, or inadequacy. Infertility can place enormous physical, emotional, and financial stress on the men and women who undergo fertility care.
More than 7.4 million people in the United States have used infertility services at some point during their lifetimes, according to a 2010 CDC National Survey of Family Growth. The theme of this year’s National Infertility Awareness Week, “You Are Not Alone,” gives men and women with fertility challenges and their health care providers a unique opportunity to raise awareness for and foster a conversation about infertility.
From Our Expert, Dr. Ronald Feinberg
“I hope for the day when infertility is treated just like any other health issue.”
How society feels about infertility and its treatment has certainly changed over the last 40 years. We used to whisper about it. Having infertility was almost shameful. Many feared using technology to achieve pregnancy. There were protests outside the first IVF clinics. Times have changed. With thousands of babies born in the U.S. through advanced reproductive technologies every year, it is now a common practice. Just last week while waiting in line at the local grocery store, I encountered a woman sharing her IVF experience with a total stranger in line.
But even though we have come a long way, we have not reversed all of the taboos and misunderstandings. In many cultures, infertility remains deeply shameful. “A woman who cannot conceive is not a woman.” Her husband may leave her. “A man who has a low sperm count is not a real man.” Many men deeply tie their self-image and sense of masculinity to their fertility. These beliefs stand as obstacles to seeking help and obtaining treatment. Some men may refuse to do a semen analysis for fear of what it may reveal. This is something I see in my practice on a regular basis.
In addition, there are other misconceptions that prevent people from obtaining help. The biggest is the fear of multiple gestation (twins, triplets, or more). This is something that has been frequently emphasized in the media. And certainly, there is truth in this – fertility treatment can lead to a higher chance of multiple gestation. However, at RADfertility we work hard to reduce the risk of multiple gestation. When performing IVF, most of the time we are putting back a single embryo at the blastocyst stage of development. This results in very low risk of multiple gestation, while still achieving a high chance of success.
Couples undergoing fertility treatment are under heavy loads of stress. They fear that it won’t work. They worry about the cost. Some fear possible side effects or other risks. Most of these anxieties are greatly alleviated through education. I always strive to fully inform my patients, so that they completely understand what is going on and feel in control of the treatment. This works to minimize the stress. Support from family and close friends can also be very helpful, especially if any of them have experienced similar issues.
With time, I hope that we all grow to see that infertility is just another health problem, like asthma or diabetes. This will make it easier for everyone to receive help in achieving a successful pregnancy with less anxiety. For now, I ask that everyone remember that infertility is a huge burden and support any relatives, friends, and acquaintances who may be struggling with it.
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Peggy Sue O.
"I feel so lucky to have found RADfertility. I tried two other clinics before I expanded my search and found RADfertility. I drive an hour each way to go to them but I don’t regret a thing. They are so caring and so professional. Every time I message them they respond quickly. Every time I see them they have a friendly smile and warm welcome. They explain everything so well and I never feel lost in the process as I did elsewhere. They also took the time to figure out what was wrong. Other clinics threw up their hands, said 'I don’t know' and pushed me to try IVF."
"Dr. Feinberg and the entire staff at RADfertility are absolutely amazing. The receptionists, coordinators, nurses, and lab staff are compassionate, caring, and straight forward. I’ve had a 12-year infertility journey and I’ve tried other clinics but RADfertility was the only one I felt at ease with. They answered any questions that I had and were there any time I needed them. My coordinator, Amy, was the absolute best and always had my back. Dr. Feinberg’s dedication to his patients is incredible. You are not just a number there, you are a person with individualized needs and care."
"The RADfertility team gives you so much emotional support and positivity that it adds to your strength and keeps you focused on the end goal - a healthy and happy baby."
"My journey with RADfertility and Dr. McGuirk started when my husband and I were trying to conceive and were having difficulty. We went to RADfertility, where we met Dr. McGuirk. I always say she changed my life and 'fixed' me. Dr. McGuirk is always learning more about endometriosis and how to help her patients. She’s brilliant and truly cares for you! I’m eternally grateful to her and everyone at RADfertility for their unwavering support, love, and care."
"Every step of our journey was tailored to us. We were treated so respectfully. Every detail was clearly explained and we felt so comfortable. Rhonda Wright was a Godsend and inspiring. I highly recommend this place! I cried when my weekly appointments were done and I 'graduated.'"
"The day I met Dr. Neithardt I knew she was the perfect doctor for me. Dr. Neithardt was so compassionate every step of the way. She held my hand, she hugged away tears, and continued to give me hope. There are not enough 'thank you's' in the world for Dr. Neithardt and the whole RADfertility team who will forever have a special place in my heart."
"RADfertility's staff has heart and provided me with exceptional health care. I knew I was in good hands and felt like we were in this together. The doctors and nursing staff always answered all of my questions and provided thorough information about all of my options. I am so fortunate and appreciative of the care that I received at RADfertility. They go above and beyond."
"I cannot begin to explain how wonderful RADfertility is. We were frustrated with trying to start a family and it not working for us. The entire team of doctors and nurses made us feel comfortable and hopeful that we would be parents. We experienced so many ups and downs but we never felt like we were on our IVF journey alone, we had our RADfertility team every step of the way. If you're looking for a supportive team on the IVF journey, look no further. RADfertility is the absolute best."
Anonymous on FertilityIQ
"Dr. Schillings always kept us informed and never gave up on us. She always explained our options and risks with each procedure. She called us personally when there were any issues or sensitive subjects to cover. Dr. Schillings was the first doctor that had answers for us and wanted to help us have our miracle baby!"
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