Tuesday, May 02, 2006

On Being Young and Infertile

Today was a pretty big day. I had my follow-up appointment with the RE to review the results of my tests and to talk about our options. The HSG and bloodwork looked good--everything is normal enough to theoretically work the way it's supposed to. The RE felt that further testing probably wouldn't tell us anything new, though it's something I may revisit in the future. That leaves us with getting treatment.

Because our move is coming up in less than 30 days we've decided to attempt an IUI cycle before we leave for our new city. Chances are about 50/50 that we'll be able to do it, what with all the moving logistics that will be happening right when the IUI will likely have to be performed, but I really want to do it if we can.

Oh, and we got one other thing out of today's meeting. I now offically carry the "unexplained infertility" diagnosis.

I'm 25 years old, and I'm infertile. At an age when most women are supposed to be able to get pregnant at the drop of a hat, my RE tells me that I have a 2-3% chance of getting pregnant every cycle. Normal, fertile women have between a 10-20% chance every cycle, depending on whose statistics you believe. Of course, when it comes to individual cases, statistics mostly become meaningless, but those are the only numbers we have.

It's a hard postion to be in. Not just because of the infertility, which has become a constant heartache, but also because I don't fit the expected mold of an infertile woman age-wise. It's not something that's ever bothered me until recently, and after today's appointment and other recent events, it's something I need to talk about.

In the last two weeks I've had two friends separately tell me that I should "just relax" about my infertility because I'm so young. The implication is that my infertility isn't a big deal because I'm only 25. These two women are close to the infertility community and I previously respected their opinons very much. I trusted both of them with my pain, and now feel like they've betrayed that trust.

When I first heard "just relax, you're so young", I didn't know how to respond. Almost a month ago, J and I decided to take a break from testing/treatments until after we were more settled in our new city. The decision was a personal one, based on factors that had nothing to do with age. It just felt like the right thing for us to do. That plan has changed a bit now, but this IUI is a one-shot deal. It will almost certainly be at least a year before we can attempt another IUI or IVF. If we get to that point, we will have been trying to have a baby for two years.

According to Resolve, the leading advocacy and lobbying organization for infertility, the fastest growing group of infertile women are under age 25. Environmental causes are suspected to be at fault.

I know I'm not the only young infertile woman out there. I also know that I'm not the only young infertile woman who feels like she isn't a "real" member of the infertility club because she's not backing up against advanced maternal age. The benefit to being young and infertile is obviously that I do, in theory, have more time to try to get pregnant before I hit menopause. I'm incredibly grateful for that time, especially since we'd like to have more than one child someday. Still, I am infertile, and that it hurts me just as much as it hurts someone who's 10 years older than I am.

I've read other blogs that talk about the crazy competitive nature of infertility. Women who have their diagnosis are "better" than those who are still just shy of one. Women who have started treatment are "better" than those who haven't. Women who've been thorough multiple cycles of IUI/IVF are "better" than those in their first cycle. Etc... It goes on and on. I freely admit to participating in this to some degree. I frequent a couple of pregnancy-related message boards where I've been known to give the "just relax" advice to women who haven't even been trying for 6 months. I'm "better" than they are because I know I'm infertile and have been through a year's worth of cycles that haven't resulted in a pregnancy to prove it.

Now there's another aspect to this crazy, nonsensical race to be "best". Age. Someone older than I am is "better" because of their age. Because they likely have less time than I do to get pregnant.

I don't know what the answer to all of this is. I can only hope that with the increasing numbers of young, infertile women like myself, people will start to realize that we hurt too. A lot. And all the "just relaxing" in the world isn't going to change that.

20 comments:

Kimberly said...

You put into words what I always wanted to say, but couldn't think of a way to. I always felt there was a competition. I admit I probably participated in it too. I still get pissy when some women are "so upset" that they haven't gotten pg in the first 6 months. I want to yell at them.

I hope to meet you IRL soon! I think about your journey in my occasional free moments and pray that your roto-rooter worked in the best possible way :)

kristin(spencerwife) said...

I am sending all good thoughts your way regarding your infertility.:)I too get extremely frustrated at the phrase.. "just relax" and it will happen, but in my case it is my DH that is having an issue not myself.

Good thoughts to you!!

Lisa said...

I thought that your post was written very well - I too am young and facing infertility. I am 26 and have been trying for over 1 1/2 years, and have my first HSG appt next Friday. I just wanted to send some support your way and...well, there's not much else I can do but have hopes that we all get through this as unscarred as possible. Thanks for sharing your feelings!

Alli said...

Good luck this cycle - the "unexplained" part of it all can be frustrating, I know.

mandolyn said...

High five, sister!

Being young and infertile is a hard category to be in, I certainly agree. The non-IF world all but refuses to understand that you can have issues under the age of 35. They perceive the frustration as whiny and impatient. Thanks for being a voice for the young IFers!

Inglewood said...

Great post, not that you have to face this, just that you brought forward an aspect that is often overlooked. I tried to get a referal at 30 to an RE, my dr refused because I was so young. It took a full blown temper tantrum almost 3 years later to finally get it.

GLouise said...

I think you make a great point here. I'm "only" 28 and can relate to many of your points. I remember a few years ago, when my OB/GYN was incredulous that I was worried about my fertility, or lackthereof. She might as well have said "just relax!"

Adrienne said...

Just chalk it up to the ultra-competitive nature of human beings, then ignore it. There are a bunch of us out there that consider us all sisters-in-infertility. No matter anyone's age. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post! What great thoughts for those of us who are in our 20's and going through this!
I think if one more person says "It will happen when you aren't thinking about it," or "Relax! You have plenty of time," I will lose my mind! :)
Best wishes!!

Anonymous said...

I know how you feel. I am 23 (my husband is 24) and we've been trying for just over a year. While all of our friends are having "suprise" babies, we can't seem to have a baby at all. I went to my normal doctor to get a referral, he went on and on about how his wife (who is 37) is pregnant, so I shouldn't worry at all and just give it more time. He did finally refer me, to an OB who had her receptionist call and say, "well you're SO young, why don't you just wait? I'm sure you just need to relax".

Thanks for the post. I'll be following your blog.

Scarlett O'Hara said...

I completely understand what you are going through. I am 26 years old and my husband and I have been trying for over three years now, getting pregnant twice, both times resulting in an early miscarraige. We are attempting our final IUI next month, and if that does not work again, we will try IVF which apparently is quite successful in many cases, so all we can do now is hope for the best and pray. It is nice to know we are not the only ones going through this and at such a young age. It is hard to see all of our friends getting pregnant so easily while we continue to struggle. I wish the best of luck to you, and just wanted to let you know that you are not alone.

mrsfinn said...

omg i'm evil... it's SOOO funny how you mention the "competition"... i admit, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY as charged am i... even sitting there reading... i'm going... "well, I'VE been trying for two and a half years!! and i'm JUST getting my diagnosis now..." and i'm going, "what the hell is WRONG with me???!!! have i REALLY become one of THEM!!???" you know, the ones who aren't happy no matter what (i've read some blogs that bitch all through fertility treatments, then continue bitching through an entire pregnancy, then bitch during infancy).... either way... THANK you for writing this, someone had to say it... and i'm glad it wasn't me, because i'd feel like the WORST sort of hypocrite if i had.

Princess Jo said...

Hi,

I found this post though the "Creme de la Creme 2006 List"..so I hope if you don't mind if I comment...2 years later!

I am 20 and am also living with as yet undiagnosed infertility (we have been trying for 2+ years): and your post summed up everything I have felt through my journey so far... Confusion, pain, a terrible sense of why me?

Thankyou so very, very much...

Jo

Anonymous said...

i'm 26 yrs old. my husband and i have been trying for 4 years. we've done 10 cycles of clomid and 4 IUI with no luck. We are now thinking about IVF.

i'm also tired of everyone including my doctor saying that i'm young and have nothing to worry about.....4 years and nothing to worry about?????

This has been the most difficult 4 years of my life....every month my heart breaks all over again. I just tired of the pain this is causing us. i wish you all the best.

Jenna said...

I'm young and infertile as well. We recently found out what we had secretly know and were to scared to confirm-My Hubby has a big fat ZERO for a sperm count. Since we recently moved to Omaha Nebraska we have come to realize that NJ requires health insurance companies to provide benefits for infertility treatments. Not only that, but there were GREAT infertilty DRs in Jersey. We have our choice of 2 out here and one has already gotten snippy with my Hubby. Yes I know-we skipped a step. we didn't see a urologist; we went straight to the Infertility Specialist after the FIRST No Count Test. He then performed a SECOND NCT. We know the problem is with my husband. We know that the next step is to either ultrasound his goods to see if there is a blockage or to biopsy to see if he produces. Yet the infertility clinic out here wants to start back at square one. It's frustrating! I'm paying for this out of pocket. I don't have a trust fund or huge amounts of money sitting around to throw at this problem (even though I am republican! lol)! I'm frustrated and tired and I feel like I'm running out of time. I know I'm only 27 but I wanted children before I was too old to enjoy them! I don't want to be 60 watching my kid graduate high school!

Andrew said...

Yeah..really well said..

Thank you very much...

___________________
Andrew
#1 Satellite Television Service Provider

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Im 22 and my husband is 27. We have been trying to get pregnant for about 14 months now with nothing happening. Not that I want this on myself or anyone, I haven't even had a miscarriage. Absolutely NOTHING! We both changed our diets to eating completely healthy, we excersize 4 times a week and I even stopped smoking for 6 months now. My cycles have ALWAYS been normal and we have made sure to be sexually active during my estimated ovulation. I was even taking my basal body temperature each morning. Taking prenatals, even tried this stuff called Fertility Aid which was recommended by women who became pregnant using that. NOTHING is working. Im not a stressed out person nor is my husband but it does hurt us. He is also in the military and is getting deployed in Sept so there goes 12 more ovulation cycles down the drain. I just now set up an appointment to try and get a referal to on OB/GYN but its the military and frankly, they dont give a rats ass at all. Im just worried they will wave me off like they already have before and laugh at me like some of you have experianced. The scary thing is my husband isnt the only man I had tried with. I know Im young but I had a past relationship where we were trying for 2 full years with absolutley NO luck! There is no way I ended up with TWO "broken" men, lol! So in total, I have been trying to concieve for 3 years and 2 months with not even a miscarriage. I just cant imagine my life without the experiance of prengnancy and motherhood. I have grown up in a huge family of 10 with me being the 2nd oldest and have always been motherly and even as a little girl I knew I wanted to be a mommy :). I have Tricare so absolutley nothing in the aid of getting pregnant is covered so I hope its an easy fix. If not, I will not think twice about getting a loan just to have the most precious thing a person could ever experiance in a life time. Its nice to know there are other young women experiancing this difficulty and it has comforted me. Good luck to all who are still trying.

staceyalbert89 said...

I would just like to be a one upper for a minute. I am 20 and just starting this great journey. At 12 they told me i had endometriosis. At 18 they said possibly PCOS, at 19 they said i had precancerous cells or something and to have children as soon as possible. Well, at 19 i got married, bought a house, and started trying. I bought a basal thermometer, read a little bit but thought "this will be freakin easy." Now we are taking clomid, monitoring when i ovulate, and next month, we may have to do something to start my period because it suddenly avoids me. All of my friends are avoiding pregnancy like the plague, and im praying for one. I am an odd woman out. And i should shut up because im just starting and havent even had the worst of it yet

Nikki said...

I am 25 and have been trying for a baby for 5yrs now, i too have been put in the "unexplained infertility" catagory after all tests have come back that there shouldnt be a problem.... but there is a problem and nothing is unexplained its just a matter of whether the medical system can be bothered looking further into finding the issue or not, we seem to have been forgotten about because we are young and in our specialists opinion we should be able to concieve without medical help. It is so frustrating and hurts everyday. Currently I have 3 family members all around my age who are due to have babies all withing the next few months, all they have to say is " it will happen when the time is right"... my question is, why is now no the "RIGHT TIME" for us? I have had alot of trouble finding people who understand our position therefore I have no support or help to deal with what I feel. This is the first time ive looked up anyone on the internet and it shocks me how many people there are in the same or a similar situation, it pulls hard at the heart strings and I wish everybody the best on their mission to have a baby or babies, I hold high hope that we all get answers one way or another

Anonymous said...

I am just 18 and I am never having my own children as I don't have a uterus and I might not have ovaries as well. Everyone tells me I'm lucky but that's the LAST thing I feel. I feel like a fuck up and a failure as a woman and future wife. Ever since I was little, I've had this weird urge to have my own children. Now I know that that is never going to happen and it is killing me. Everyone tells me I'm so young, you can just adopt, and that I'm lucky that I don't have periods or ever have to go through menopause. That hurts. I would go through anything to have my own children. I would go through menopause 6000 times if it meant having kids of my own flesh and blood. People don't understand and they never will.