Monday, December 10, 2012

being infertile shortens your life

Or at least it does if you don't resolve it - so get on that.

Last week, a researcher at the University of Denmark released the results of a study on couples who underwent IVF for infertility. According to the study, the mortality rates for those couples who were childless were higher than those couples whose IVF treatments worked or who subsequently adopted children. Doctors attributed this to the stress cause by infertility treatment and/or the lifestyle difference between those with children and those without.

I don't buy this.

Don't get me wrong. Infertility treatments are stressful. This is a large reason why we didn't pursue IVF (that and it was expensive with no guarantee of the payoff). I wasn't sure that I could mentally handle a failed IVF cycle. I've always struggled with anxiety and depression, but both were exacerbated by infertility treatments. A failed IVF cycle would have pushed me over the edge. To be honest, a failed adoption would have pushed me over the edge, too. Thankfully, we never had to experience either.

But I don't believe that the stress of infertility will kill you. Nor do I believe that your lifestyle becomes so much different than those who have children.

It seems like scare tactics. As if people who want children and can't have them need to be pushed any further toward the cliff of complete insanity. But why bring on this discussion? What is the point of telling people who can't have kids that they are going to die sooner than everyone else around them if they don't succeed? Let's scare the shit out of a group that doesn't need anything else to fear. That sounds like fun. It makes me wonder if IVF clinics sponsored this, just to get more people coming through their doors.

It's also interesting that they focused solely on couples going through IVF treatment, as well, rather than focusing on the entire population of childless couples. What about couples who choose not to have children? Or couples who choose to adopt children without the diagnosis of infertility? Do they live longer as a result of those life choices?

How long we live depends on a myriad of factors. You can't point the finger at any one reason or the decision behind it. I could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow; I have a child. Those two things have nothing to do with one another. And unless my uterus explodes one day, I'm fairly confident that, when it is my time to go, my reproductive capabilities will have nothing to do with my exit from earth.

Infertility certainly feels like death some days. But don't believe for a second that it will kill you - with kids as the result or without.


S said...

As a parent of 10-month-old twin boys, I would say that my life is FAR more stressful now than before I became a parent. (And yes, I am including the years of dealing with infertility in that statement.) In some ways, my life is happier, as I am THRILLED with my sons and with being a mother, but my stress levels are just a lot higher than they've ever been.

So I don't buy the argument that stress shortens the lives of people who don't go on to have children, as I think that parenting increases stress for many people, at least in the short term.

someday-soon said...

Statistics will tell you anything you want them to with the right "random" sample =)

Ali @ Not All Dreams Are Free said...

Excellent points you make! IVF clinics already do a great job reinforcing the uncertainty of their treatment. Not getting anyone's hopes up... It worries me that a university would spend money on researching this topic about a vulnerable group of people.

AnotherDreamer said...

Very well written. I think that study is total crap myself, it's pointless and hurtful. It's fake science, in a nutshell. How sad.

Elizabeth said...

Oh my goodness. I also saw that study! Isn't that horrible!? It's disgusting. I also couldn't believe some of the quotes from Alice Domar in the article that I read, because she's usually such a wise voice in the world of infertility!

Lollipop Goldstein said...

That is such an interesting point: who did fund this? Who is behind the study?

Also, how do people fare who adopt who weren't infertile? Very interesting questions.

Christina B said...

I hadn't heard about this article. My husband and I suffer from infertility and don't have the option for IVF (I can't carry a baby). I don't "feel" like this is something that will KILL us! That's taking it a bit far in my opinion. Thanks for the post!

starfishkittydreams said...

I totally question the methods used in that study. It sounds totally biased and even mean spirited in its intent. Like being infertile doesn't make you feel bad enough, now you have to hear that your life is ending sooner?

Being infertile is stressful, but so is parenting. It seems naive to assume that parents have low stress lives, if anything I would think the opposite with stress being even higher for parents of large families.