Infertility: Promoting Sensitivity

“When are you going to start a family?”

“Do you want a baby soon?”

“Are you going to have kids soon?”

A friend of mine got so sick of the questioning that she considered replying, “How do you know we’re not trying?” just to shut people up. She wasn’t trying to conceive, so imagine the pressure on those people that are trying and failing.

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The rapid growth of Australia’s fertility industry (now worth an estimated $150 million) means that almost everyone knows someone who’s undergoing IVF. While some people are open about their IVF status, others are more secretive, choosing to tread the infertility path without disclosure. Regardless of the way one chooses to deal with their fertility plight, it is a very personal issue that should be treated with sensitivity amongst family and friends.

While I never underwent IVF, I did go through a few rounds of IUI (a less invasive fertility treatment) and I can tell you that the emotional rollercoaster was hard enough without people probing into my personal life.

“You should start thinking about kids soon,” a friend said to me, unaware that I was in fact trying. “You’re not getting any younger.” She handed me a fertility book the size of a phone book, “You need to take charge of your ovulation.”

I wanted to smack her over the head with that brick of a book. Little did she know, I had taken charge; I had put up with a doctor prodding around my ovaries with an ultrasound wand every month for the past three months.

Another friend of mine also had difficulty conceiving, and she too was the victim of thoughtless pressure. “Even your younger sister has a baby,” her impatient mother said.

An Indian friend with the same burden was told by her mother that, “Even a girl will do.” In a country renowned for sexual discrimination and a preference for sons, she was willing to accept a granddaughter if it meant her daughter finally conceived a child.

“You must see our guru,” her father then demanded. “He will cure you.”

It is no wonder some people hide their infertility in a box away from friends and family. So, the next time you broach the topic of someone else’s family planning, I would like to suggest a little sensitivity. A little personal space. A little less intrusion. A little less presumptuousness. Your friend or family member will thank you for it.





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