In this blog post, Part 2 of National Infertility Awareness Week 2023, we will share some common factors contributing to infertility, how different demographics are affected, and the emotional impact it can have on women and men struggling with infertility.
Be sure to read Part 1: Infertility Awareness. In the first of this blog post series, we discussed what National Infertility Awareness Week is, how it unites millions of people nationwide, who the National Infertility Association is, why we need to raise awareness, how infertility has changed over the years, and how it affects couples in the United States.
Common Factors Contributing to Infertility
Infertility is a complex medical condition that can have many causes contributing to one’s reproductive health. For individuals and couples dreaming of building families but struggling to conceive, it is important to understand that many factors can contribute to this condition.
Some common factors include:
Age is a significant factor in fertility, and fertility declines with age in both men and women.
Women are born with a finite number of eggs, and as they age, the quality and quantity of their eggs decline, making it more difficult to conceive.
Hormonal imbalances, such as those in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can interfere with ovulation and make it difficult to conceive.
Structural abnormalities, such as blocked fallopian tubes or uterine abnormalities, can make it difficult for sperm to reach the egg or for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
Certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity, can also impact fertility. Harmful chemicals, such as endocrine disruptors, can also negatively impact men’s and women’s hormones and reproductive health.
Medical Conditions and Treatments
Certain medical conditions, such as endometriosis, can interfere with fertility. Additionally, certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, can impact fertility in both men and women.
Raising infertility awareness brings more of these issues to light, so those struggling can begin to take premeditative measures. Speaking with a healthcare provider to identify potential underlying causes is important.
Remember that resources and support are available to help you navigate this challenging time. The National Infertility Association is one such resource.
Demographics Affected by Infertility
Certain demographics are disproportionately affected by infertility. For example, women over 35 are more likely to experience fertility issues due to declining egg quality and quantity.
Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), are more common in certain populations and can impact fertility.
The prevalence of infertility can also vary based on race and ethnicity. For example, Black women are more likely to experience infertility than women of other races, while Asian women are less likely to experience infertility.
It is not fair that certain demographics are disproportionately affected by infertility.
However, these disparities are often the result of underlying social and environmental factors, such as access to healthcare, education, and socioeconomic status.
Racism and discrimination can also impact health outcomes and contribute to disparities in infertility rates.
Addressing these disparities and ensuring all individuals and couples can access affordable and equitable fertility treatments and family-building options is important.
This includes advocating for increased insurance coverage for infertility treatments and addressing issues that impact health outcomes.
Emotional Impact of Infertility
The emotional impact of infertility can be significant and far-reaching. For individuals and couples struggling with infertility, it can be a deeply isolating and emotional experience that impacts their physical and emotional wellness.
The following are some ways in which infertility can impact a person emotionally:
Grief and Loss
Infertility can feel like a loss, and individuals and couples may experience grief and mourning over the loss of a child they had hoped for.
Anxiety and Depression
Infertility can cause anxiety and depression, especially as individuals and couples struggle with the uncertainty and unpredictability of their fertility journey. It can also put a strain on one’s emotional energy.
Shame and Stigma
Infertility is often stigmatized, leading to shame and self-doubt. This can impact a person’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem. When we raise awareness, we also help to break the stigma and shame by letting those that struggle know that they are not alone.
Infertility can strain relationships, especially as couples disagree about the best action or struggle with blame and resentment.
It is important for individuals and couples struggling with infertility to prioritize their mental health and seek support as needed. This can include therapy, support groups, and other resources designed specifically for those struggling with infertility.
Remember that infertility is not your fault and that resources and support are available to help you through this challenging time.
To learn more, please continue reading this blog post in Part 3. In part 3, we uncover some of the mental challenges couples face when dealing with infertility, coping strategies for both emotional and mental struggles, additional resources for guidance, and some traditional approaches to infertility treatment.