IX Misconception: "I've had a baby already, so I won't have a problem having more."
Reality: Secondary infertility—having difficulty conceiving after having conceived in the past—is almost as common as primary infertility. Dr. Copperman explains that the causes of secondary infertility are the same problems many couples experience the first time around: "It could be egg quality, tubal disease, uterine problems, or even a newly acquired male factor. So even if a couple has gotten pregnant in the past, if they're having difficulty it's important to go through the basics—check the eggs, sperm, fallopian tubes, and uterus—because we often find that things change over time."
X Misconception: "Infertility is uncommon."
Reality: Infertility affects about ten percent of Americans of child-bearing age. Pamela Madsen, the executive director of the American Fertility Association, aims to educate the general public, employers, and legislators, but it's an uphill battle, she says: "On a recent trip to Washington, [I was] meeting with a top Republican aide about federal legislation for infertility. This aide turned to me and said, 'Infertility? Doesn't that only happen to anorexics?'"
Part of the problem is that those coping with infertility feel alone and ashamed, and they may share their difficulties only with their very closest friends and family—if they share them with anyone. Infertility should not carry a stigma, and the more informed people are (thanks to brave souls like Madsen, who are willing to speak out about their own struggles to have children), the less isolated and helpless infertility sufferers will feel.
*Names have been changed.
Jill Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor to YourTango. She founded Tear Sheet magazine, and now lives in Madrid, Spain with her husband and their son.