When Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel stated that, “We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph,” he could have also added, “with its own physical responses,” as no two people react exactly the same way to any situation – emotionally or physically. And this too is the case with infertility treatment.
There are numerous reasons why a woman may be infertile. To fulfill the dream of parenthood, science has discovered many different methods to improve the chances of becoming pregnant by addressing the specific causes of the infertility. However, with every infertility treatment you have both the intended consequences or rather physical changes to the body that will allow you to become pregnant as well as other not unintended consequences but rather unavoidable consequences that may occur as part of the treatment.
We are all aware of the fact that the human body is a complex machine where everything has its purpose. Its parts do not act independently, and the optimal operation of the body as a whole is dependent on every organ playing its part (pardon the pun) as designed. Mess with one part of this complex jigsaw puzzle and you affect every part. It follows from this that when looking to influence the body during fertility treatment, there will more than likely be physical changes.
Causes of Infertility, Treatments and Physical Effects
Causes of infertility in women can be broadly categorized as follows:
- Problems associated with ovulating
- Blocked or damaged tubes
- Unexplained infertility
Treatments for these causes include drugs that stimulate that release of hormones needed to cause ovulation, drugs that lower blood sugar levels, as well as other types of hormones.
Physical effects from infertility treatments include:
- Enlarged ovaries and abdominal discomfort
- Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, increased abdominal gas, or shortness of breath
- Hot flashes
- Blurred vision
- Breast tenderness
- Hair loss
- Lactic acidosis which can ultimately be fatal but is very rare
Physical changes following surgery to unblock or fix damaged tubes are limited to the area of the operation. Similarly, the effects from procedures to treat endometriosis and insemination are limited to the area on which the surgical procedure is performed and cramping respectively.
Achieving the dream of parenthood by undergoing infertility treatment does not come easy – and that is even before the pregnancy. All the effects mentioned above affect women to a different extent. The physical changes may not be comfortable or fun but they are rarely life-threatening and the reward at the end of a successful process will more than compensate for any discomfort.