I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud in this online community because it is hard for me to think of myself as truly "infertile," even after all this time.
I understand that the textbook definition of "infertility" is TTC for over a year without success. By that definition, we are definitely infertile. But although we are "unexplained," the most likely reason for our infertility is simply that I waited until I was too old to start TTC.
To me, the label "infertility" is used to describe a medical condition and is more correctly applied to issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian failure, low (or zero) sperm count, and other physical barriers to conception and successful pregnancy. Because all of our testing is normal and neither of us has any diagnosed problem, "infertility" doesn't seem like the right word to describe our predicament.
[I must note here what my sister has correctly pointed out to me on more than one occasion: because I never tried to get pregnant before I was 37--and in fact, tried NOT to get pregnant--I can't truly know that age is the problem. But it seems logical and very likely.]
Perhaps I feel this way because I hesitate to call something which is a natural part of the aging process a disease. After all, won't EVERY woman be infertile after a certain age? Certainly that age may vary from woman to woman, but being too old to produce a good quality egg at 37 (when I started TTC) or at 39 (now) hardly qualifies as premature ovarian failure. Just as there is much individual variation in when a woman will spot her first gray hair or wrinkle, perhaps so it goes with egg quality. We all get old, only the rate at which that process occurs varies.
So I feel like a bit of a fraud, someone masquerading as having a real illness when what she really has is bad luck and poor planning.
And because of this view of myself vis a vis my lack of fertility, I actually feel a little guilty when I consider using methods like DE IVF to achieve a pregnancy. Is it right for me to avail myself of such technologies (at great expense, I might add) simply because I am now too old to achieve pregnancy on my own? I have long been of the school of thought that just because the medicine or technology exists for something, that doesn't necessarily mean that I agree with using it. (Example: I would never want to be kept alive on a ventilator or via tube feeding for more than a few days, even though people can actually live this way for years if necessary.)
I read the blogs of many other women who are in the IF morass with me, and many of them are much younger than I and struggling to get pregnant. Shouldn't the use of ART be reserved for people like them? Women who are infertile not because they put off having children (as I did) but through no fault of their own?
Having said all this, I make no judgments of women my age, and even older, who have undergone any type of fertility treatment. This thoughts are directed at myself alone, not to the world at large.
One more thing for me to feel guilty about.