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Infertility: The Last Great Taboo

Irish Times,  Sept 29, 2009
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Because it is such an emotive subject, many couples find it difficult to discuss what one writer has called ‘the baby-shaped hole in their lives’, writes KITTY HOLLAND

WITHOUT A doubt it is the last great taboo, says Prof Robert Harrison. “No one speaks of it. Maybe a woman will talk to a close friend if she’s worried. But it is such a private issue. It’s one even close friends won’t ask about. It goes right to the heart, I suppose, of who we are as adults and why we get together.”

To be infertile gives rise to feelings of failure, of sexual dysfunction. Author Martina Devlin, who has written of her own experiences of infertility and unsuccessful attempts at treatment, said on the issue last week: “It leaves you with a big R’ stamped on you, for rejection.”

Speaking at the publication of two reports by the Women’s Health Council (WHC) on issues surrounding infertility, Devlin spoke of the mourning couples did “behind a wall of silence”.

“There is so much grief and exclusion and disenfranchisement.”

Since she wrote about her infertility some years ago she is still regularly approached “mainly by women”, she said. “They look happy and glossy and as if they have everything they want in life, and they just want to talk to someone about the baby-shaped hole in their lives.”

It was a testament to how hidden and unspoken an issue infertility was that people were willing to talk to a stranger about such a personal issue, she said. Read more.


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