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Infertility Is Not...Only An Older Woman's Disease
a blog by Ebru Halper, April 23, 2013
According to the CDC, 20 percent of women in the US, today, have their first child after 35. A woman’s age often comes up as the main cause for a couple’s inability to conceive. It’s an acknowledged and socially recognized matter—from our celebrities to our everyday faces of infertility, we are mostly used to seeing women in their late thirties to early forties, coming to terms with their biological clock. Thus, perhaps, it is not surprising that there is an unspoken insensitivity for younger infertility patients.
I was one of those younger patients. In fact, one of the 11 percent of married women who experienced infertility before the age of 29. Yes, I was lucky to find the right guy and start trying by 27. We moved out to the ‘burbs, because you know, we were going to have kids. After trying for six months, I knew something was wrong. I checked in with my gynecologist who sent me home without a single test: “You’re young. Go have fun. You’ll be pregnant next month. Oh and start eating some animal protein, that will do the trick.” Let’s just say, no amount of chicken made a difference.
When I turned to my insurance, I discovered that while a woman over 35 can get some fertility coverage after TTC for 6 months, those of us who are younger had to wait a whole year! I didn’t need another 6 months of sex with my now turned-off husband to be finally told we needed help. No one seemed to understand my complete frustration. My body (at the time, I assumed the issue was only with me) was failing me at what was supposed to be my peak fertility years. From the outside, I was the picture of health; on the inside I was barren.
Once I finally started cycling at a fertility clinic, I would be faced with what were seemingly innocent comments of reassurance about my age that only left me with more pain. One came from an ultrasound specialist who confirmed that my third IVF was officially an ectopic pregnancy. “It’s a bummer,” he said. “But at least you’re young. You have time.” I will never forget those words.
Age may be just a number, but when it comes to infertility it can be the difference between being taken seriously and being dismissed. It took me countless cycles, miscarriages and moments of deep sadness before we conceived our son. The misconception that because I had fewer lines of wisdom on my face meant my situation didn’t elicit the same degree of urgency ate away at my spirit.
On this Infertility Awareness week, I would like to shed light on those younger women who are struggling to be heard. Infertility is not only an older woman’s disease. It sees no age—unlike the rest of us, infertility does not discriminate.