The Infertile Label

Not many people are comfortable with the thought: I am infertile. That can feel harsh and limiting.  You are much more than any one part of your life. And to be defined by something you cannot do? Ouch! While infertility is significant, your ability to have a child is not your entire identity.  You are so much more.
Another reason it may feel uncomfortable is because it carries stigma. Infertility is a medical diagnosis, but the term feels laden with negativity. Just a few decades ago people whispered the word cancer, as if it was contagious or shameful. Infertility is whispered for similar reasons and because it involves the private and personal issues of intimacy and sex.
Yet another reason it may not resonate is because it may not be accurate. The medical definition of infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a period of heterosexual intercourse. Yet people who are carriers of genetic diseases, perfectly capable of getting pregnant, may need the same fertility treatment to safely have a child. Someone who experiences multiple miscarriages might also have the same medical intervention. The entire LGBTQ+ population requires some type of intervention regardless of diagnosis. None of them necessarily meet the definition of infertile.
One of the benefits of having a definition or label is the ability to address the issue it identifies. When one is diagnosed with infertility, they can be directed towards treatments to get pregnant. What about the other instances? This is when a phrase like family building challenges is helpful. You may be able to get pregnant, but an auto-immune issue will cause a miscarriage; or your life partner is another women so sperm is not in the equation. Different situation, similar goal – have a family.
For infertility, it is important to consider the context. Infertility is tied to your experience. In that regard, no definition or label can establish what it will be like for you. Addressing a “family building challenge” puts the emphasis on where you want to go: you want to build a family. By far the majority of people who focus on the family building and not on the infertility find a way to do it. Many people internalize the infertility aspects and give up. Really. The fact that you are reading this and working to build your family already bodes well for you. You see beyond any label.
Whatever comes of your family building experience, whatever you call it and however it ends, you will have you. Maybe you have a medical diagnosis, maybe not. Either way, label yourself (and support yourself!) with love and care.
You are resourceful.
You are also powerful.
You are loved.
You are you.

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