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Unexplained Infertility: Is It Voodoo?
a blog by Ellen Glazer, February 9, 2011
I have a client who came to me recently with a troubling question: “Do you think that I am under the spell of a curse?”
Now, to offer some context, my client is not someone that you would peg for being superstitious or gullible or easily sold on witchcraft. In fact, she is a brilliant and successful scientist, a highly educated and sophisticated woman of reason. An unlikely candidate for voodoo. So why the question?
The Infertility 'Curse'
My client has unexplained infertility. She has gone to the very best fertility doctors and, as a scientist, has done extensive research on infertility. She has no explanation for her infertility — or at least none that is grounded in science. And so she finds her scientific mind traveling down the unscientific road that brings her to the “curse.” Could it be, she wonders, the real cause of her infertility?"
When my client was a teenager, a mean girl — and we’ve all met them — told her that she had magical powers and that she was putting her under a spell. At the time, my client thought little of it. She took it for what I believe it was — one girl teasing another. Years went by, actually decades, and my client never gave the “curse” a second thought until recently when she faced the real curse of infertility.
I know this sounds crazy, and my client would be the first to weigh in and say that it sounds crazy to her as well. Still, I can understand why she feels that she might be cursed. After all, unexplained infertility makes no sense. How is it that in this day and age of sophisticated medicine, there are people whose infertility cannot be explained by even the most thorough physicians doing the most rigorous investigations. How is it that a brilliant scientist cannot make sense of her own infertility?
Making Up Answers for Unexplained Infertility
I think that in the frustrating absence of answers, people come up with their own explanations. I had a support group once in which people went around and spontaneously offered up the “reasons” for their infertility. One woman said that she was being punished for marrying outside her faith. Another woman said she was being punished for not wanting children when she was a teenager babysitting for her younger siblings. A third said her punishment came because she had accidentally broken a plate that her mother-in-law gave her as a wedding gift. And on it went.
I feel for my client’s pain and for my support group members. The longing for a baby is painful enough for those enduring infertility. Not having answers and explanations makes the wait and the longing and the trying all the more difficult. It is easy for me to see how minds take flight and look for answers, sometimes in the most unlikely places.