My mom the yogi forwarded me her e-newsletter from Gaiam this morning, explaining that it had an article on various detoxes to try, “plus some infertility advice to read and file for the future.” Doug laughed at this; as far as we know, we’re not actually infertile. If we were, we wouldn’t bother buying so many condoms.
What the article is actually called is, “5 Natural Ways to Enhance Fertility.” Most of it was stuff I already knew: “Manage your BMI; switch to whole milk and whole grain; reduce or eliminate your caffeine intake; quit smoking; quit drinking; try accupuncture.” Yeah, yeah, yeah.
There were two tips, however, that got me – not that they were anything other than obvious, just that they pissed me off. The one dedicated to the men suggested they not “cook the little guys” by sitting cross-legged or with laptops on top of their junk. But it also said this: “make sure they’re not too constricted (e.g. by bike shorts, tighty whiteys, etc.).” At least Doug’s got one up on my ex, who wore tighty whiteys regularly (ew-ew-ew-ew-ew). But would this mean he’d have to give up cycling? And, since the article mentions it takes two or three months for sperm to be formed, would this mean he’d have to give up cycling for three months or more?
“No,” Doug said immediately and emphatically when I mentioned it to him. I am trying – and so far succeeding – not to see this as him choosing his fucking bicycle over making babies with me. (Okay, I’m mostly succeeding.) I know that when it comes down to it, he’ll do whatever it takes for us to start a family, but would it have killed him to say that?
Then there’s tip #5: Reduce Stress. After explaining how stress can affect both men’s and women’s ability to reproduce, and giving some general tips about yoga, meditation, and exercise, the article gives us this gem:
If the stress stems from your efforts to get pregnant, meditate on this fact: The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that you’ll get pregnant on your own. “Couples need to understand that about 85 percent of them are going to conceive within a year of trying,” [Harvard assistant professor Alice] Domar counsels. “It’s highly unusual for someone not to be able to have a biological child.” Even if you do need to see a fertility specialist for a specific issue, according to Domar, 90 percent of those issues are treatable.In other words — it’s going to happen. So sit back, relax and have fun trying!
This makes me want to bang my head against the wall. This article is pointing itself toward women who are concerned about their fertility – presumably some of whom have already been declared infertile – and they do not want to hear that they fall into the hopeless 10% of the unlucky 15% of people who can’t get pregnant on their own. That’s like reinforcing the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us and our womanhood.
These women also don’t want to be told to “just relax and it’ll happen.” Because what if it doesn’t? Or what if it does happen, but even then, it’s not that simple? After all the stories I’ve heard since my miscarriage – because everyone has a miscarriage story or an infertility story to share (whether it be their own or a friend/family member’s) – it seems that for anyone to ever say “relax and it’ll happen” is preposterous, and kind of an outrage. And those who can get pregnant and stay pregnant without a hitch should be considering themselves extremely lucky, not just a given part of the statistical norm.
As someone who fears infertility, and knows it as a potential personal threat, these words give me no comfort. “The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor?” “Relax and have fun trying?” Eff you, yogi newsletter. This is a real problem for a lot of women, and you’re shrugging it off as something mildly annoying but overall non-threatening, like, I dunno, a yeast infection, or the inability to contort into a plow pose.
Consider this read and filed for the future – like maybe in my next life, when I’m reincarnated as a knocked-up high school student and can laugh along with Gaiam at just how frickin’ easy accidentally falling pregnant really is.