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.