In Canada, one in 6 struggle to conceive and will be diagnosed with infertility. Think about that in terms of your neighbourhood. Let’s assume you live on a street with people who are all in their reproductive years. If the streets in your area each have has 30 houses then 5 of those houses – five of those neighbours – are likely to have struggled with infertility. It seems like a truly huge figure, doesn’t it?
The World Health organization has recognized infertility as one of the biggest and most complex health issues of the 21stcentury. Infertility is defined as failure to conceive after one year of trying. If you are over 35 then that length of time drops to six months, as in if you are 35 and over and you have been trying to conceive for over six months then it’s time to consult a fertility expert.
I was one of the one in 6. I have Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder, and a complex health history and as a result I suspected I might have some challenges conceiving. But we tried anyways. We quit using birth control when I was about 28. But by the time I was 30 we knew despite fertility treatment and surgical interventions that getting pregnant was not likely to be in the cards for us. Instead, we opted to adopt our beautiful babies, who are both now 11 and 13.
Very often there are no warning signs, or clues that you are infertile. Pretty much every couple believes they will get pregnant on their own timeline. When that doesn’t happen, when months turn to years and conception proves elusive, or conception happens but miscarriage is the end result, the continual heartbreak carries a heavy emotional toll.
Infertility can be devastating to those diagnosed. It consumes every waking moment, and challenges you physically, mentally and emotionally. Every month is a roller coaster of emotions wondering if it will happen this time and then crashing when it doesn’t.
A few more facts about infertility: 40 % of infertility is considered male factor infertility and 40 % is considered female factor. The final 20 % is due to unknown causes or unexplained infertility. Secondary infertility is a growing phenomenon in Canada too. Some estimates are as high as 40 to 50 % of infertility is secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is defined as infertility that occurs after having a child. So perhaps the first baby as conceived traditionally without any issues whatsoever and then it proves impossible to have a second child.
Whatever the cause or the source or the diagnosis, there are a couple of universal truths for all people struggling to conceive. Most patient groups such as Conceivable Dreams advocate for infertility awareness. Awareness is key to helping the rest of the world understand what you are going through in the attempt to build a family. And peer to peer support is essential in getting through the infertility journey. Nobody but another patient can understand fully what you are going through having to take the meds, chart the cycles, and schedule specialist’s appointments. Support is crucial for many infertility patients.
With that in mind here are four infertility resources in Canada:
Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (National) a National body advocating for infertility awareness and a potential resource if you are seeking a regional support group to connect with.
Generations of Hope Fertility Assistance Fund and Patient Group (Alberta) If you live in Alberta and need assistance with the cost of in vitro fertilization you can also connect with this group to find out more. They are also on Facebook:
ACIQ (Quebec) Association Des Couples Infertile du Quebec. This group is currently quite active advocating as massive legal changes threaten to impede access to infertility treatment in Quebec.
Paula Schuck is a Mom, community manager, digital strategist and blogger atwww.thriftymommastips.com. She lives in London, Ontario with her family and she recently learned to ski.