The irony of birth control


We did everything we could think of to maximise our chances. We made all the practical lifestyle changes we could. Cut down our wine consumption enormously, cut out our gin consumption entirely. Avoided nights out. I took my temperature every morning for months and months trying to pin down exactly when I ovulated – that’s a whole world of fun I can tell you! We’ve always had a healthy diet but I took folic acid every day and T was also taking a handful of pills to boost his swimmers, Vitamin C, B12, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin E. We cut down on coffee and black tea. Avoided fish like tuna and swordfish which contain high mercury levels. I read somewhere that T should stop using a laptop on his lap. Skip jacuzzis and hot baths. Stop keeping a mobile phone in his jeans pocket in case of radiation. We even stopped cycling (not that we were massive bike riders anyway) because riding a bike can scrunch up a man’s…you get the picture. The list goes on and on. In short, we read all the books and did anything and everything we bloody well could. Basically, it boils down to this, most of the pleasures in life are not fertility friendly. But it would worth it. We tried to be patient and think positively: it will happen eventually, no doubt when we least expect it…

Except that it didn’t.

By nature, both T and I are doers and used to making things happen with a bit of hard work and determination. In this way, we’ve found that you can pretty much succeed at whatever you put your minds to. But we couldn’t make a baby. However hard we tried. Despite doing all the right things.

After a while, all the lifestyle changes start to mock you. I’d spent my entire adult life avoiding getting pregnant. Condoms, the pill, the morning after. All the information out there seems geared towards how to avoid unwanted pregnancy, obviously a massively important issue. We’ve been educated to understand that all it takes is one slip up. Just one accident. It’s been drummed into us. But with this mindset, the reality of being unable to conceive when you want to comes as a bit of a shock. No one ever tells you how hard it might be to get pregnant in the first place. Nothing I had ever really engaged with properly before we started experiencing difficulties had ever said in a serious way that you might want to get on with it before you hit the big 3-0.

We thought that we were doing the right things. We were sensible and waited until we were financially stable, lived our lives, careers going well. But should we have started trying earlier? Of course, we will never know either way but I started to ask myself why I had I bothered messing about with my system continuously for 15 years.

Fertility starts to decline for women from about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35. We are not unusual in our circle of friends. More and more people are leaving it later and later before starting a family. Should there be a little more out there to raise awareness about not leaving it too late?  A bit more information to balance the focus on not getting pregnant? All I know is, that if we knew then what we know now, we would have been slightly less ‘sensible’ and started trying earlier.

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