Why Isn't Infertility Given the Same Respect as Other Diseases?
Fertility treatment and infertility. Some things are so very different.
First and foremost, pregnancy rates. Even more important, take home baby rates. (Sounds like a clever marketing term, doesn’t it? Actually it means something very significant, exactly what it sounds like though. A baby in your arms at the end of treatment, being the only quantifiable marker.)
And then there’s the other side.
So frustrating. How little some things have changed.
Twenty-five plus years ago, infertility and fertility treatment were exploding. There were new scientific technologies that were developed that created families that would not have come into being any other way.
There has always been conversation that fertility treatment is frivolous. Not necessary. Optional. Not essential. There are many other synonyms that fit. The basic message was that having a baby was not a necessity.
I took offense to that lack of understanding more than a quarter of a century ago and it offends me even more now.
Is Infertility a Disease?
Here’s what I define as lack of understanding:
- Our reproductive endocrine system working is as important as any other medical system working.
- Infertility is a disease that needs to be treated, underlying reasons and causes can be life threatening.
- Insurance coverage should cover the expenses of medical treatment as they are deemed necessary by a physician.
- Infertility isn’t shameful.
- Infertility isn’t the patients fault.
- Infertility is infertility even when the cause can’t be identified.
- Infertility isn’t punishment for previous decisions that have been made.
If I broke my leg, likely, I wouldn’t be told that I can do fine enough walking around with a limp or using a crutch or a cane or even a wheelchair. I wouldn’t be expected to heal on my own, with no help. My leg would be set and put in a cast and watched over until it was healed. There would be x-rays taken and standard care would be that I would have follow-up visits to see how I was doing. I wouldn’t hear an explanation that a broken leg isn’t life-threatening or that it wasn’t necessary to take care of it. There would not be comments that while it impacted my life, still, I could live a full and complete life, just would have to make some adjustments. Maybe give up a lifestyle or dreams that I had for a particular way of living.
I wouldn’t be told that it was my fault, even if in fact it was. Even if I had been careless and could have prevented breaking my leg, I would still be treated for the injury and trauma. There would be no process that I would have to go through to decide whether or not I was too old or not old enough or rich enough. In most situations in the United States of America, my leg would be taken care of with very little fanfare.
Why Is Infertility Treatment Any Different?
So why is it any different for our reproductive system?
How is that fair? Or reasonable?
It’s not right at all.
And I didn’t even bother bringing up the obvious. Viagra. Because I do absolutely believe that erectile dysfunction should be treated as the dysfunction that it is.
I just also believe that infertility should be treated as the disease that it is also.
About Lisa Rosenthal
Lisa has over thirty years of experience in the fertility field. After her personal infertility journey, she felt dissatisfied with the lack of comprehensive services available to support her. She was determined to help others undergoing fertility treatment. Lisa has been with RMACT for eleven years and serves as Patient Advocate and the Strategic Content Lead.
Lisa is the teacher and founder of Fertile Yoga, a program designed to support men and women on their quest for their families through gentle movement and meditation.
Lisa’s true passion is supporting patients getting into treatment, being able to stay in treatment and staying whole and complete throughout the process. Lisa is also a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist, which is helpful in her work with fertility patients.
Her experience also includes working with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association and The American Fertility Association (now Path2Parenthood), where she was Educational Coordinator, Conference Director and Assistant Executive Director.