Even in 2008, some 25 years after pioneering treatments became available, infertility is one of those subjects.
It’s no wonder those of us diagnosed with various infertility factors shrink in shame or disbelief when the news comes. We not only don’t want to wrap our heads around not being able to have children easily, we can’t discuss infertility or its contributors — endometriosis, varicocele, poor sperm motility, or PCOS to name just a few — in polite society without fear of people recoiling from the ick factor.
I take heart though looking at other subjects that there were once verboten but slowly came out of the shadows and into the light. They range from using the word “breast” or “prostate” and “cancer” together in mixed company. (Now at various points in the year the Safeway cashier asks, ringing up my milk, fruit and salad dressing, if I want to donate to research for either without batting an eyelash.) These topics are not only part of our lexicon today they are matter of factly understood to be parts of the body that have a high incidence of disease … and if the disease is detected early can be successfully combated. It was essential to get people comfortably conversant in the subjects to successfully get them to ask, without shame, for more information.
There are other subjects like mental illness or rape that were once off limits as well. Compassionate and persistent people working tirelessly behind the scenes helped to sensitize society and allow for greater understanding.
Infertility brings more than just physical challenges, it suffers from a huge perception challenge. The issues surrounding it are complex. I recognize that it’s going to take time not only for people to sort them out but to get comfortable enough to begin to be open, to wanting to know more, to seek greater understanding.
No matter. I’m going to be persistent.