What Menopause and Infertility Have in Common: The Inability to Get Pregnant

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closedI promised to follow up on what infertile women and fertile women going through menopause have in common. It happens on the the day once-fertile women experience that certain “Je ne sais quoi” …

A few years ago while I was in the midst of my IF treatments, one of my most compassionate friends, curiously, was a woman some 16 years older than me who had never desired nor pursued children. Day in and day out her support and cheerful encouragement were a constant.

While I was praying every month that my period wouldn’t come and cursing it when it did she was in the late stages of menopause – hot flashes, hormone swings, the whole enchilada. She was very ready to be done with menopausal symptoms. One month her period didn’t come. The following month, no sign of it. She realized soon enough that it would never come again. It was at this point she shared something that made a big impression.

In a conversation one day after I lamented that my period had arrived signaling failure once again she gently said, “Pamela, for the first time I think I can finally understand what you’re experiencing. While I never aspired to be pregnant, I nonetheless find myself mourning the fact that the choice, the opportunity to conceive, has been taken away from me.

If someone like me …. Someone who never longed for children…. can feel the way I do, then I can’t begin to imagine how much more devastating it must be for someone who truly wants them to have that opportunity taken away.

Her observation was both illuminating and affirming. It led me to recognize that one day all women will face the jarring but inevitable realization that their plumbing no longer works. They will join me as bona fide infertiles. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t afford me just a bit of shadenfreude.

For once I’ll be the one in the position to casually suggest to women who never questioned their fertility, “So you can’t conceive. If it’s parenting you want, there are many children in this world in need of a good home.”

Don’t get me wrong, mentoring, loving and guiding a child through life is an exceptionally rewarding experience. But you see, there’s more here at stake. It’s the ability to successfully create. It’s the magic of seeing your love manifest itself in a baby. It’s the rite of passage that comes with conception. It’s the opportunity to leave a little something of your DNA behind to live on in a new generation of offspring.

That’s what my older friend came to realize more fully. Welcome your thoughts here…

One comment

  • Chris

    How right you both are. I suffered with infertility while everyone around me was having babies and now I am at the other end. Even though I don’t want a baby at this point in my life, KNOWING that I can’t still leaves me a little wistful. It is an odd common ground but it is there.