What Are The Pros And Cons Of Women's Identification With Fertility?

There are many pros and cons to women’s identification with fertility in modern society. A woman’s inability to naturally conceive a child is emotionally trying for both her and her husband. When a couple begins the journey of conception, both individuals place high expectations on the process. When this process is hindered by the infertility of either partner, it often results in increased levels of tension, disappointment, guilt and frustration—within the relationship and throughout continued attempts to conceive. This stress can lead to an increase in the release of stress hormones and the mechanisms which control normal ovulation cycles, impacting the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.

Conventional methods used to treat infertility often exacerbate the problem and do not aid fertility. This is because they may add stress and stigmatize women even more. Surgical options are invasive and painful, which may increase the stress associated with the problem. Drug treatments require women inject themselves daily or take oral pills daily, and the stress of remembering as well as the side effects only worsen the mental and physical burden. When acupuncture is used to treat infertility, on the other hand, it can reduce anxiety and stress by altering endorphin levels.

Attitudes Toward Infertility

Women who are infertile often feel stigmatized in their community, including the medical community. Much like the introduction of birth control, the introduction of infertility treatments was met with hesitation by medical professionals. With the media exposure, the attitudes toward women who are infertile and taking reproductive therapies have altered slightly, but not enough to make a significant change in perceptions and stigmatizations.

Even with improved treatments, the previous media attitudes toward infertility have made many women reluctant to undergo new treatments. While younger women are more willing to try infertility treatments, this is often a result of less exposure to the past media and the stigmatization of infertile and surrogate mothers.

Attitudes toward infertility have also been hindered by religion. Many religious groups have advocated through the media that they are either not in support of any infertility treatment or they are in support of only treatment options which involve the sperm of the husband and the eggs of the wife, thus opposing certain treatments because the conception of a child through the sperm or egg of someone who is not the spouse can be considered adultery and a sin.

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