Thursday, February 25, 2010

The elephant in the room for infertile couples

Clinic Painter (eponymous vase)Image via Wikipedia

When infertile couples come to me for treatment, I usually tell them they have 3 options:
to live childfree;
to adopt a baby; or
to pursue medical treatment.

Actually, there is one more option, which most doctors will not discuss, but which most infertile couples think of - often unconsciously. This is the option of getting married again or finding another partner - a real-life option which some people will pursue, but few will discuss, which makes it the elephant in the room for many couples.

Having a baby has been extremely important through the ages and before the advent of effective medical treatment, societies would resort to alternative non-medical options in order to keep the family unit intact.

Even today, many Indian villagers will resort to these alternative options, especially in extended traditional families which frown on taking medical treatment for infertility, which is often seen to be a punishment from God. This is also an acceptable option amongst Muslims, who are legally allowed to have more than one wife.

Many wives are scared that their spouse will remarry if they cannot get pregnant - and this is a very common worry in Africa as well. However, most couples are reluctant to discuss this openly, which means the fear remains suppressed.

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