The CDC estimates that 11% of married couples in which the woman is between 15 and 29 years old and has never had a child of experience 12-month infertility (page 20). This means that these couples were unable to achieve pregnancy after a year of trying. This was a surprising figure to NaturalGuy and I - pregnancy is often portrayed as inevitable for young people, but these numbers show that a surprising number of young couples struggle to get pregnant. A few months ago, we had a health scare, and in light of this, we've been very grateful for our reproductive health and fertility.
In September, NaturalGuy went for a routine check-up, and the doctor felt lumps which he suspected was testicular cancer. While NaturalGuy's doctor was less than communicative, we quickly learned from national health websites that the standard diagnostic tests were an ultrasound, followed by a surgery to remove the testicles. Cancer is not confirmed until after the testicle is removed. Since there were lumps on both testicles, the ultrasound had the potential to lead to the removal of both testicles.
Our first worry was NaturalGuy's health. The treatment for testicular cancer (removing the testicles, followed by chemotherapy) is highly effective, but we were still very worried of course. We also realized that we were in for some tough decisions concerning fertility if the ultrasound suggested cancer. Even if only one testicle were removed, there would be the possibility that the cancer had damaged the remaining testicle's ability to produce sperm. This would mean that even before the procedure, NaturalGuy would not necessarily be able to produce healthy sperm.
After two days of worry, NaturalGuy went in for the ultrasound, and several hours later we got the all-clear. We were very relieved! We were also very aware of how devastated we would have been if the possibility of bio-children was removed.
In addition to this health scare, charting my cycle has revealed that I have a short luteal phase - only 10 days. Typically, the luteal phase should last at least 12 days, to give a fertilized egg time to implant. A short luteal phase means that the uterine lining might shed before the egg has a chance to implant, preventing pregnancy. This may be temporary - possibly the result of coming off of birth control. It was certainly a wake-up call to the fact that even healthy women may have hidden health problems that effect fertility.
This Thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for our health and fertility.