By Tania Tod
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, nine percent of all Americans of childbearing age struggle with infertility. That is a whopping 5.2 million people. Judging by the news – about IVF, infertile celebrities, and international surrogacy – infertility has almost reach pandemic levels. Is infertility really on the rise? And does that mean that women are imperfect?
Looking at the causes of infertility reveals that male fertility problems are just as prevalent as female fertility problems. Of the infertility cases with a diagnosed cause, 30 percent are female infertility issue, while 30 percent is due to male factor infertility. The other 40 percent is either idiopathic (without a known cause) or combined. The statistics speak for themselves. If infertility is indeed on the rise, it would not be because women are imperfect. Unless, of course, you’d be brave enough to count a woman’s choice of (infertile) partner as female infertility.
But is the media’s portrayal of infertility as an increasing problem accurate? Personally, I am not so sure. Couples who are trouble trying to conceive are certainly talked about more now, as are fertility treatments which are now readily available to many people across the globe. It also seems like women are choosing to delay motherhood more and more. This is, at least in part, due to our culture’s constant aim for perfection. We feel most comfortable making the choice to add a child to our family when we are happy about our careers, financial statuses, and of course – about our partners. And for an increasing number of women that means that their “perfect timing” for a baby is out of synch with their biological clock’s.
Not all that long ago, infertility was something that just happened to some women – and there was not a lot they could do about it. If trying for a baby and watching for pregnancy signs each month didn’t work after a couple of years, what could they do but accept that they would not get pregnant? Perhaps it is not so much infertility that is on the rise, but fertility treatments. Perhaps humans will always be imperfect (and that is just as well!), but our search for perfection will never cease. And sometimes, that is exactly what makes us imperfect!