Why I Didn't Want to Seek Infertility Treatment
The rate of women seeking infertility treatment has declined. Do they share my reasons for being hesitant?
After our first year trying to conceive, I wasn’t too worried that we weren’t pregnant yet. As the second year came and went without a positive pregnancy test, I started to wonder and worry. Why wasn’t it working? What was I doing wrong? What was wrong with me?
Even though I wondered… I was hesitant to seek help.
Apparently, I’m not the only one. According to USA Today, data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows a decrease in women 25-44 years old using any infertility service from 20 percent in 1995 down to 17 percent.
So what’s keeping women from seeking treatment?
One of my biggest concerns was money. IF they found me to be infertile, what would it cost to have a baby? It was unclear to me if our medical insurance covered infertility treatments. Even now I couldn’t tell you if they do or not. Would we only be able to have one? Or worse, what if we spend all kinds of money on treatments but never get pregnant?
The whole idea felt like a gamble and I wasn’t sure if I’d know when to fold ‘em.
Truthfully? I was scared. I was afraid to seek treatment because if a doctor confirmed my infertility, it would make it true. Without going in, we still had a chance to get pregnant on our own. Were my fears logical? No, but I wasn’t as well informed about treatment options then as I am now. For one, I didn’t know that being labeled “infertile” didn’t mean there was no chance of getting pregnant ever in my life.
At a time when pregnancy rates are rising among 30-year-olds, it’s a bit surprising to learn that the use of fertility treatments has gone down. It seems like more and more couples are seeking treatment for their issues trying to conceive, but perhaps it’s just an increase in talking openly about it. However, the decline in couples seeking infertility treatment is not a result of increased online research. Data from the National Survey of Fertility Barriers showed women are still more likely to meet with a doctor for fertility information, though many may utilize the internet for supplemental information. Only 9 percent of respondents searched for infertility information online but did not seek treatment.
Now, that I could definitely relate to! Once I finally started talking to my OB-GYN about our struggle to conceive, she offered advice (have more sex) and ran fertility tests. I had blood work done and they checked my husband’s sperm count. Everything kept coming back normal so I had a hysterosalpingogram (aka HSG) to check for blockage in my fallopian tubes or for any uterus defects. After scheduling the appointment, I hopped on my computer and looked up more information about the HSG test. What it was exactly, how it worked and what to expect. If I hadn’t read about it ahead of time, I probably would have gone to the appointment alone. Thankfully, my husband came with and drove me home because I had a lot of cramping and discomfort afterward.
So, while it’s not entirely clear why there has been a decrease in women seeking fertility treatments, the good news is the most common fertility services used were the least expensive, such as advice (29 percent), infertility testing (27 percent) and ovulation drugs (20 percent).
“Not everyone needs expensive or high-tech treatment,” says Barnhart, an OB-GYN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Maybe simple treatments and advice is all they need. When people don’t come in to get the consult, they don’t know if simple solutions would have helped them.”
Fortunately for us, consultation and some testing was all we needed. Although there was no definitive answer as to why we weren’t conceiving those three years, I have my guesses as to how I was messing up my fertility. We now have two children that we conceived without any medical help. I suppose it was a relief that our fertility tests came back normal–it kept us from giving up completely!
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