#Microblog Mondays: Infertility, the disease

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I was thinking back to when my mom first asked me about our infertility (I had started following an infertility board on pinterest and stupidly had my Face.book account linked so she saw it there). I was very vague with her, at the time J and I didn’t know much about what we were up against but we knew it wasn’t good ( we had just recently received his first SA back, with bad results). It was looking back on this, that got me considering infertility, thinking on it as a disease (which it is).

It’s tricky to categorize it as such though as the true definition of a disease is;

A particular abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism.

But with infertility, I find it doesn’t fit as neatly into this box. The definition of infertility is even varied, and vague (I won’t post all of the different definitions, but you can check them out here). In some instances an infertility diagnoses is based on attempting conception for a specific period of time (and this time period can vary depending on your age). It can be more straightforward if there is a reason for your infertility, perhaps PCOS, MFI, blocked tube, ect. Makes it easier to have a reason, but doesn’t always make it easier to treat (and by easier, I mean it’s easier for a doctor to put you in the box “infertile”). It get’s tricky because it takes (at minimum) two people to make a baby, but when one person is given a diagnoses of infertile, it often applies to the other half of the baby making couple too. For example; in my case, the most likely cause given to us for our infertility was male factor. But notice, it is “our” infertility, not just his. As far as we know, my “bits” are all in working order, yet I still consider myself infertile.

Sometimes there is no reason found (so you have a disease, but no one knows why, or what to do about it). It’s not really recognized as a disease by those that don’t suffer from it. It’s seen more as a hurdle, a barrier, but nothing so serious as a physiological problem (which it generally is in some form or another).

Infertility is a slippery beast to pin down. I can understand why the general population has a hard time recognizing it as a disease, when the medical community doesn’t even provide a concise definition. It’s not talked about like a real disease, there are no well known “runs”, or fundraisers. But those of us who suffer from it know better. So here’s hoping for more recognition, more research, more hope and more understanding.

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4 thoughts on “#Microblog Mondays: Infertility, the disease

  1. I really like this post and can relate to it. I once referred to my infertility (PCOS in my case) as a “BS disease that’s not even real” to my fertility specialist – even though, of course, it’s perfectly real and truly created/creates an enormous amount of misery. I think one of the issues with infertility is that it is at once a diagnosis in and of itself but also can be a symptom of another issue like PCOS or endometriosis. I’ve wondered if this quality – where infertility may be treated as simply a more distressing but not life-threatening symptom of a larger problem – leads to the idea that infertility isn’t as big a deal.

    Definitely with you on wanting more recognition, research, and understanding!

  2. Well said. I certainly relate to this. I’m always a little uncomfortable with the word “disease” because that makes me think of cholera or measles, even though the WHO has categorised it as such. It is certainly a legitimate medical condition, whatever we call it, that deserves treatment, in the way any other medical issue/condition that affects our ability to function is treated, Unfortunately, as you say, the general public doesn’t see it as such. I hope that this changes.

  3. A lot of the time there can be too much emphasis on the woman when it comes to infertility too. The doctors will go on about the woman’s egg quality but they aren’t as quick to think it might be a sperm issue. And “infertility” sounds so final. I prefer to say “I’m dealing with infertility /persuing infertility treatment” as opposed to “I’m infertile”

  4. I like this post, too. It is such a hard thing to define, and while it feels like there are definitely situations that are in black and white, a lot of other situations fall into a hazy, grey area.

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