The impact of infertility 

No language to ask questions about fertility

In the first group programme a young married woman of 21 with TS came and spoke to the participants about her own adolescence and young adulthood and how she worked through her issues. The group participants asked her questions about how it felt for her to be short and what it was like to be different. male-infertilityHowever, when the young woman moved on to describe her future plans for IVF this usually talkative group of teens, who had found it hard to form a prepared question on this topic, also found it hard to ask her a question spontaneously during the discussion time. When she described how she would ask her sister for an egg, one participant said softly:

  • It’s the same genes.
  • In the fourth group programme, fertility was introduced as a specific discussion topic. Deirdre (16) put the topic aside:
  • I don’t think about the future, like fertility, too much.

And Yvonne (14) said:

  • It doesn’t mean a lot to me yet.

Kerrie (13) had thought of possible solutions when she summed up her thoughts thus:

  • When I was ten, my friend and I decided she would have a baby for me.

In these sessions, there was more interest in discussing current concerns; for example, how they were keeping up with other girls at school or whether someone at school was being nasty to them in some way.

The loss of fertility may be too hard to imagine or to speak about as it is a loss that belongs to future experience. Furthermore, the teens in the group programmes seemed more preoccupied with the ‘observable’ body – what they saw as their physical difference from their peers.

Physical difference

Kelly from the same group programme as Katherine and Linette made a creative design about herself that seemed to reflect her perception that she sometimes felt different from others. In session one she selected and arranged a purple ribbon and other objects to make her design. She finally placed a small woollen lamb in the centre and covered it with a chiffon see-through scarf Sildenafil citrate online in Canada. She described her design:

  • The lamb underneath the scarf is like me – I’m the odd one out.

She gave her design the title This is me?

Her floor design in the fifth and final session was similar in style. Kelly said her design was about the:

  • …pretty things which are separated from those that are not so pretty.

She continued looking at her design but chose to say no more about its meaning. She titled her design: Symbols. Four years later her creative designs still resonated for her. She said:

  • I have those photos at home. I look at them sometimes.
  • I really said a lot then, didn’t I? (Clinical notes)

At the beginning of the third group programme the teenagers brought up their embarrassment and angst at their physical difficulties:

  • People stare at my hands; they are puffy. The other girls have pretty fingers. (Tammy referring to her lymphoedema)
  • My wrists don’t work for ballgames – I’m not an asset in the group. (Wendy’s skeletal problems)
  • I can’t roll in the gym. (Simone, difficulty in coordination)
  • People say I can’t run properly. (Tilly is overweight)

Nancy summed up the way she felt different from her peers in what could be a sense of shame:

  • The spotlight is on you, I want to hide.

These physical preoccupations, together with earlier teasing about their short stature, contribute to confusion and uncertainty about their body over and above the usual adolescent concerns. These preoccupations need to be named and addressed in various mediums before infertility, as a significant part of the social and emotional body, can begin to find a verbal expression.