Let’s face it… I’m far from being a mechanic but when I think of the journey I have had through my fertility challenges It has been a long and unpredictable journey to say the least
So this is why using a car analogy is the easiest way for me to explain why taking your reproductive health and fertility is so important.
The most typical advice you may have heard is that as soon as you drive a new car away from the show room, the car has already started depreciating.
In the same way, it has always blown my mind that a female foetus is born with all the eggs they will ever have, and they will never make new eggs during their lifetime. In fact the highest number of eggs a female foetus will ever have is when they are in their mother’s uterus.
Stay with me here...
The latter isn’t a cause for concern, as with life everything has an ‘expiry date ‘ of some sort. More so a biological clock is given the name it has for a reason. Regardless of birth control pills, pregnancies, supplements , health or even lifestyle, the supply of eggs will continue to reduce with age.
The Office for National Statistics revealed that women in their 40s are now the only age group with a rising pregnancy rate, up 2%., supposedly at this age women are more educated , settled and financially stable.
This fact, coupled with the lifestyle trends in today’s society where women are now prioritising their careers and delaying motherhood until their early thirties poses some problems. It does make a lot of sense, With current affairs and pressures from society today, motherhood and the desire to become pregnant, or be a mother is arguably more of a women's choice than an innate drive that's centred in every women's life dream.
For me, I have always wanted a family, however I feel that I took my fertility for granted .That's not to say that if I had looked into some issues earlier I wouldn’t have been in the situation I am now, however I am honest enough to say that I was very ignorant, and my ignorance has cost me somewhat.
Going back to my car analogy my body since starting (and stopping), my periods at 12 have had a myriad of warning lights and messages that which were telling me something needs urgent attention.
At least in the case of a car if I choose to be proactive and face up to the reality of the situation, I can deal with the issue quickly and potentially benefit from a small inexpensive repair.
Likewise, if I did decide at the time to be proactive and check into the garage (GP) to have these warning lights looked at, however many times my doctor told me I'll be fine, I'm still young .. blah blah, I could have, and would have had every right to get these issues investigated early enough.
Although these ‘lights’ in my body turned on many times, I chose to ignore it.
For me, these lights were excruciating heavy periods which left me fainting and vomiting every month . I say every month, but this is slightly dishonest as another light was constantly on:
Maybe flashing - this was the lack of frequency of my menstrual cycle.
I’m pretty sure at some point I went nearly a year without a period and never questioned or even looked into it once until my body broke down.
These choices were made solely out of me naively feeling blessed that I didn’t need to worry about the pain , and more so being at an age where I wasn't even thinking about settling down , let alone starting a family. This was a blessing in disguise.
Some of you may identify if coming from an African household that there was always so much emphasis placed on finishing school , focusing on the books and making sure no boy 'impregnated' you which would bring shame on the family. For me knowing that I weren't having periods and also not being sexually active I was so far away from this blunder. I touched on this concept of pronatalism in sky news article.
Many people who have followed my journey would ask , and sometimes assumed that there must have been something definitively diagnosed or obvious that would have made me resort to seeking fertility treatment and having IVF. Well it’s not that easy to make such an assumption- my husband and I agreed to start a family soon after we were married in May 2014 and after 2 years of tests and trying to conceive we still up to this day come under the diagnosis of 'unexplained infertility'.
That being said the fact that for many years I had faced infrequent periods , thus no ovulation, that should have been enough for me to look into things further.
To elaborate my point, this blog post isn't solely isn’t about the fate of whether you will experience motherhood , after all not all of us may want children but it doesn’t mean that if you fall into this category that any warning lights should be ignored.
To put it candidly and back to using my good old car analogy once more, from time to time very car needs a service for maintenance and necessary repairs if need be. The general guidance on car servicing is that most cars will need to be serviced once a year or every 12,000 miles.
So lets pause there, that means whilst unlikely; if a well and frequently driven new car was able to clock up 12,000 in 5 months, whilst its's far from a year you shouldn't ignore it if its already reached or gone beyond its mileage capacity. In the same way whether you are too young or too old, or have no overtly obvious symptoms that point to a reproductive health/gynaecological issue , it's important to go for check up's and investigate any potential issues.
As I finish writing this post, I am currently rereading a letter from my fertility clinic about the cost of storing my frozen embryos further. I don't share this information to scare you or request a pity party, after all there is no one-size fits all conversation surrounding fertility as it's such a broad and multi-layered topic to discuss.
I share this information to simply make you think about where you fit in within the conversation of fertility. How does your story or personal circumstances relate to this as a health issue?
I know as a black woman , I constantly remind and sometimes even feel resentful for not being educated much about fertility. After all, if there is so much focus on sex education, why can't the education system in its entirety talk about the subsequent yet closely related area of fertility?
We as women and also men must educate ourselves, More so speaking on my own behalf particularly because in this unfortunate topic area we are excluded from these important conversations that will give us more knowledge and power to be proactive and solution focused.
So I have created my own space and forum for black women, and I hope to see you at my Black women's fertility event on Friday 1st November.