Thursday, October 27, 2011

Am I Infertile or Not?

The short answer is: My husband and I have not been diagnosed with infertility.

The long answer is:

When viewing the infertile community as a whole, we see a wide array of circumstances that cause a person to define themselves as “infertile.” Keeping in mind that relationships exist where both the man and woman have been diagnosed as infertile, there are significantly more relationships in which either the man or the woman has been diagnosed in this way. (There are also women without a male partner who pursue IUI/IVF via sperm donation and men without a female partner who pursue IUI/IVF with surrogates or gestational carriers, but that is a post for another day.)

Are these individuals considered more or less infertile by the community? Of course not! A woman experiencing male-factor infertility is not ostracized because the “infertile” person in her relationship is her husband, and a man whose wife has lost her fallopian tubes does not leave her to carry the weight of infertility alone; the couple shares the diagnosis.

And there, I believe, is the dividing line: The couple shares the diagnosis.

So where does this leave me?

My husband has sperm count of zero but he does not share my desire for more children so we cannot be defined as infertile. As his wife with the desire for another child, I sometimes think of myself as “Situationally Infertile”: I have the desire, yet lack the ability within my relationship, to become pregnant.

I do not believe that I am minimizing the pain of infertility by using this phrase. I feel close to individuals experiencing secondary infertility, which RESOLVE defines this way:

The conception of my daughter did not require any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications. The conception of additional children would require IVF with testicular biopsy and, possibly, ICSI. My husband does not want to pursue treatment, as he is satisfied with the size of our family. So where does that leave me?

A question constantly making the blog rounds in the infertile community is this: are you still infertile if you’re not trying to conceive?

Most of the bloggers and commenters answer: Yes.

1 comment:

  1. I've been poking around your blog since receiving your comment on my Creme de la Creme post (thank you by the way).

    As a Single Mom by Choice, this post really resonates with me. I have thought in this way myself.