As a part of NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week), women all across the country are using blogs to address popular myths concerning infertility. Even though I don't have a widely-read blog, I wanted to do my part to bust my least favorite myth, "Just relax and you'll get pregnant."
My first experience with the infamous "Just Relax" advice was with my family doctor almost a year after we started trying to get pregnant. When I confided in her that we had been trying for a while and that I was getting frustrated, she whipped out her prescription tablet and told me I needed some anti-anxiety medicine to help me relax.
I can't tell you how hurtful it was to hear that. It implied, at least to me, that I was doing something wrong. That I'm the reason I'm not getting pregnant. That all I need to do is get a grip and I'll instantly conceive. That my personality is at fault. I know it isn't true and I know that the people who regularly tell me this mean well. I still want to throat punch them.
In reality, more than 90% of infertile women are so because of physical problems that prevent conception and/or successful pregnancy. There are actually very few people for whom relaxing is really the answer. Do I understand that reducing my stress level is desirable? Absolutely. Will it "fix" the hypothyroidism and poly-cystic ovarian syndrome that prevent me from ovulating? Not in a million years.
By the way, I don't take those pills. I got the prescription filled and then put it away. I don't want to be one of those people who has to take medicine to take the edge off of my life. I don't judge anyone who does. In fact, I totally understand. Just because I didn't take one today doesn't mean that I won't take one tomorrow. I look at the bottle in the medicine cabinet sometimes and then shut the door, hoping the day will come when I won't even think about them.
Maybe one of these days I'll figure out just how to relax. In the meanwhile, I'll keep using a specialist (several of them, in fact) to figure out how to get my body to cooperate and my stubborn ovaries to let a few eggs loose.
If you know someone who's struggling with infertility, please don't tell her to relax. Tell her you've got your fingers crossed and that you wish her good luck and comfort in hard times. And, for God's sake, don't tell her you got pregnant the first time you tried.
For more information about infertility, please visit RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.