Deciding whether to have children is one of the biggest choices you make in life. You can always change careers, go back to school, or get a divorce. But children are one of those decisions you can’t undo, so you have to put a serious amount of consideration into the question. That’s why, when you finally get to a point when having children feels right, it can be devastating to have trouble conceiving one. Moreover, planning a trip to the doctor to check your fertility can be nerve-wracking and emotional. That’s why there are positive things to tell yourself before you check your fertility, because this is one diagnosis that requires some preparation and perspective.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “infertility is defined clinically in women and men who cannot achieve pregnancy after one year of having intercourse without using birth control.” Of course every couple will have variable reasons for this to occur. One pair may have medical conditions that limit their ability to conceive, while another may simply miss the ovulation window every month.
Then there is the correlation between age and fertility. According to Everyday Family, a woman is considered of “advanced maternal age” once she is 35 or older. (Side note: I realize this is medical terminology, but is there a kinder way to phrase that?) It’s a conundrum faced by couples everywhere: if you wait until your careers and finances are stable enough to support a family, then your biology might start working against you. There is a lot to be said about responsibility, financial preparedness, and difficult adult decisions, but suffice it to say: age-related fertility decline is a sucky situation for many people.
Getting your fertility checked is not just another trip to the doctor. It can bring your life choices, future plans, and even your sense of self into question. That’s why it’s crucial to keep these things in mind before you even get it checked.
1. Infertility Is Not The End Of The World
It's sometimes possible for women who fit the definition of infertility to still conceive a baby. As explained by WebMD, although women who do not conceive a baby after 12 months of trying may be considered infertile, they often go on to have a baby in the second year. So don't panic if the "I-word" is applied to you; it may not be as bad as you fear.
2. There Are Many Options For Family Life
Even if you are really struggling to get pregnant, remember that you still have many options for creating a family. In vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, or adoption are all possible avenues that you can explore. Of course none of these courses of action are easy or appropriate for every situation, but it helps to remember that there are many ways to create a family.
3. You Can Get A Second Opinion
Granted, this may not change the outcome of your results. But even if your first doctor confirms your worst fears, you can always get the advice of a second or third physician as well. According to EmpoweredIVF, a second opinion may offer you fresh insight into your situation. It's helpful to find a doctor who can provide a correct diagnosis and offer sensitive, appropriate advice for your particular needs.
4. Your Partner May Also Need An Evaluation
If everything checks out okay on your end, then your partner may still need to go in for an evaluation. As stated in WebMD, "in about 20 percent of infertile couples, the man is the sole cause of the inability to conceive," and his fertility may be a contributing factor in another 30 to 40 percent of cases. This is good and bad news; even if your fertility is in tip-top shape, you may not be out of the woods yet as a couple.
5. You Are Not Defined By Your Ability To Conceive
For better or worse, there is a ton of cultural significance attached to a woman's ability to bear children. And if you have always planned a future that involves biological motherhood, then you may feel like your identity will be compromised by an infertility diagnosis. These feelings are all valid, and you need to give yourself time to process them. That said, whatever the results may be, you are still one-hundred percent the same badass you have always been.
6. Being Responsible Is Not Regrettable
Hitting that "advanced maternal age" before starting a family does not make you a bad person. Maybe it took you longer than expected to finish grad school or find a suitable partner or build your savings. This is never a bad thing. Although many parents can — and do — cope with all kinds of hardships, if you've taken your time to create a family responsibly, then you should have no regrets. It isn't your fault that your eggs don't understand the ramifications of the 2008 financial crisis.
7. You Are Financially Ready For Tests
You may want to double-check your insurance before the appointment: according to Cost Helper, out-of-pocket costs for fertility testing can vary from less than $100 to over $1,000. Different types of tests may cost more, and you may need to budget extra money if you have to use a hospital facility. Ask about cost ahead of time to avoid sticker shock at the end of a stressful doctor's appointment.
8. You've Been Trying
Chances are your ovulation cycle and basal body temperature are monitored more closely than the stock market. But it may be helpful to review the basic ways to check your fertility to make sure you and your partner are already doing everything in your power to conceive. At any rate, it will give you doctor more information to draw from when making a diagnosis.
9. You Can Deal With Any Result
If you're eager to start a family, then the dread of any potential fertility problems can feel overwhelming. Just remember that, whatever the result, you can still have a happy and fulfilling life. Fertility treatments, surrogates, and adoption programs are all available. And if you're really struggling, don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or a counselor for support.