The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Most people don’t talk about infertility. What infertility is. How it can affect women. How it can affect men. In fact, infertility is stigmatized as a topic throughout multiple stages of life, even as a college student. For many, infertility is something that is “shameful,” providing feelings of inferiority for those who experience it. It may seem as if infertility is something that many people do not go through, but, contrary to this way of thinking, about 1 in 8 couples actually have trouble conceiving.
The gift of life is something that a lot of people can easily take for granted. I’m definitely at fault with this as well. It’s easy to focus on the things that go wrong in your life, but very hard to focus on the things that have been going right. Those who struggle with infertility have a glimpse into what it is like to be able to have the opportunity to give this gift of life. They start to realize how treasured and special it is to have this power. Those who do not struggle with infertility may not realize how special it is to easily create life. They do not have to go through countless procedures with their infertility specialist. They do not have to check on how many eggs they have each menstrual cycle. They do not have to spend the time and the money to make sure that their womb is ready and prepared for a baby. They do not have to worry about taking their progesterone pills on time. They do not have to worry too much about their estrogen levels. Instead, they are able to move on from the fertility stage, and proceed to an OB/GYN with an official pregnancy. Those with fertility issues still remain in the former stage, as they need to cross this hurdle before proceeding to the OB/GYN.
When a couple struggles with infertility, they may have to go through a series of surgeries and tests to find the best plan of action. This is also dependent on the woman’s genetics, age, and lifestyle factors, as these all can influence fertility levels. This is also why it is relatively important to start paying attention to these factors early. There is one procedure that many women may have to go through in order to try and become pregnant: IVF. IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization. During this procedure, “a man’s sperm and a woman’s eggs are combined outside of the body in a laboratory dish.” In order to retrieve the woman’s eggs, she does need to go through an egg retrieval procedure. As someone who has witnessed an egg retrieval procedure, I can assure you that this is no easy feat. After the procedure, these eggs are taken and frozen. Many college students may have heard of cryopreservation, also known as egg freezing. The man’s sperm is also retrieved, and is prepared for external fertilization. Then, the man’s sperm and the woman’s eggs are “combined outside of the body in a laboratory dish.” Once the egg is officially fertilized, it is then transferred in a smaller procedure into the woman’s uterus. After this, the couple will have to wait about 2 weeks before finding out if they are officially pregnant. Many couples have to go through multiple cycles of IVF, which is another added struggle to the process of becoming pregnant. IVF is also very expensive, so not all couples have this opportunity.
IVF treatment “accounts for 1.5 percent of all babies born in the U.S.,” and is a rapidly growing treatment for those having trouble conceiving. Personally, I was born using IVF treatment, which I recently learned about a year ago. Before this realization, I did not know what IVF was, and how prevalent infertility actually is. Being an IVF baby helps me put life obstacles and successes in perspective. It helps me appreciate the opportunities I actually do get. The struggle to have me simply be present here on Earth was complex, but also extraordinary. I’ll never forget how hard it is for other couples to conceive, and will keep this in mind when I eventually want to have a child. Going forward, I hope more people realize how lucky they are to be able to conceive without further obstacles, and show respect and encouragement for those going through fertility issues and procedures, like IVF. Through science and medicine, other IVF babies and I are able to be alive. It is why I am able to write this article here today.