In the world of fertility, we can sometimes become “snobs” about what counts as true fertility issues. For example, I have posted that some women suffering from primary infertility (unable to conceive a baby at all) do not consider women suffering from secondary infertility (unable to conceive after giving birth to one or more children) to “count” as truly infertile. This attitude has caused pain to at least one of my readers, who was “outcasted” from a fertility forum because she had previously birthed a baby. See Supporting Those with Secondary Infertility for more on this topic.
What about when a couple cannot conceive after a vasectomy reversal? Do they “count” as infertile?
I have a friend who went through fertility procedures after marrying a man who had a vasectomy reversal. I wrote about her story at A Different Kind of Fertility Success Story. She and her husband were never able to conceive a child and became parents through adoption after a very long and bumpy ride on the adoption roller coaster.
I saw this woman’s pain, and I assure you that it was no different from my own. She was not involved in her husband’s decision to have a vasectomy: He made that decision long before he ever met his wife. She knew going into the marriage that he would have to have a vasectomy reversal, but she had hope that the procedure would fix the problem. It did not, just as it does not for half of the people who have this procedure performed. See Vasectomy Reversal for more on this topic.
Did this couple “deserve” this pain? After all, he chose the vasectomy. If you could see their faces as they failed to become pregnant month after month, you would realize that nobody deserves that kind of pain. Regardless of why they were unable to conceive a baby, they felt the same pain that the rest of us do. If anything, my guess would be that he heaped regret and guilt on top of his other painful emotions.
Sometimes fertility issues are caused by choices that we make (like vasectomies), and sometimes they are caused by our bodies betraying us (like my endometriosis). When all is said and done, you have two people who desperately want to become parents but cannot. Does it really matter how they became infertile?
Infertility is unfair, no matter what got you to the place where you are. It hurts. There is no need for us to hurt one another more by creating a caste system. There is quite enough pain to go around.
Photo credit: Faith Allen