Infertility – Letting Go Of The Shame

A trip to the mall.  A stop at the grocery store.  A dinner out.  Simple, every day tasks.

Unless you struggle with infertility.

Then these “simple” activities can turn into painful and challenging events.  And sometimes even make you feel shameful.

I’m not just saying this as someone who has heard a lot about infertility or has friends that have dealt with it.

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I’ve been thereReally been there.  I’ve had to say no to invites from friends that were expecting because I just couldn’t be around them.  I’ve had to try to put a smile on my face while listening to someone talk about how they were upset that they found out they got pregnant again without trying.  I’ve had to excuse myself from conversations about how overjoyed someone is to be done having kids.

In addition to the hurt I’ve also felt the shame.  The shame of being different and feeling like I don’t fit in.  The shame of having a body that doesn’t work right.  The shame of not feeling like a true woman.

But there is one more aspect of my struggle with infertility that has made me feel the most shame.  The path I chose to deal with it.

In 2006 I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist.  It led me down a path of a variety of fertility drugs and treatments.  After various attempts and a diagnosis of both male and female factor infertility, my husband and I proceeded with in-vitro fertilization.

We were very blessed that I got pregnant on the first try.  And now I have a beautiful, smart, creative little girl who just turned 5.

But the journey was far from over.  In early 2010 I was first starting to learn about real food and natural health…while in the midst of trying for another child.  I had already been through two failed attempts via IVF.  And was in the middle of a third.

As I learned more and more about real food I became more and more hopeful.  Maybe I could heal my body and restore my fertility without all of the medications and procedures.  Maybe.

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I went on to do 3 more IVF transfers.  And after a lot of heart-break and physical endurance I now have a wonderful son who is just about to turn 2.

I was overjoyed when I got to this point.  I was opening up and sharing my story in hopes of giving others hope.  But I didn’t expect what came from sharing my story…more shame.

In the world of real food and natural health, saying that you conceived via IVF is kind of like saying you feed your kids fast food and candy bars every day for lunch.  I got some nasty remarks and questions.  How could I promote a natural lifestyle and support “unnatural” fertility treatments at the same time?

I’ve thought and prayed about it a lot.  I’ve felt the shame…and I’ve let go of the shame.

Although I fully support natural means of improving fertility and health,  I also know that this was my path.  I started my journey with infertility before I even knew what real food was.  I’ve also learned that real food doesn’t always work.  It really can help most of the time.  But sometimes no matter how hard you try there are things that you can’t change.

No matter how many raw egg yolks and plates of liver I eat, no matter how much raw milk I drink, no matter how many detox baths I take, no matter how many supplements or vitamins or herbs I take, no matter how much yoga I do or how much sleep I get…my fertility status will not likely change.

I have a condition called polyfollicular ovaries.  And to this day I’ve never heard of any real food remedy for it.  I’ve never found any research that explains what causes this or how to treat it (aside from working around it with IVF).  I don’t know what hormones control it.  The only solution I know of is time…some day when my egg supply diminishes my body will hopefully work normally.  It could be tomorrow.  It could be when I’m 45.

But I still deserve to be a mother.  God created my children and gave them to me.  Not a doctor.  Not a pill.

I don’t know what is going on inside my body.  But I do know that I don’t have to be ashamed.  This is the way God made me.  I didn’t cause this.  I’m not eating the wrong food.  I’m not lacking in effort to give my body the nourishment it needs.  I am fully supportive of natural fertility, health and healing.  I strive each day to keep my own family healthy.

But I also know that sometimes things don’t go the way we would like.  And sometimes we have to let go of our ideal situation.

If you’ve struggled with infertility please don’t be ashamed.  You are still just as complete and worthy as any other woman.  No matter what road you’ve been down know that you are right where you need to be.  Be kind to yourself.  Accept yourself.  Let go of the shame.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week.  Get informed.  Be aware.  Never be ashamed or make anyone else feel ashamed.

Mary Voogt is a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother of two. After 6 years as an electrical engineer she now stays home full time. She is passionate about real food and enjoys spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking from scratch. She blogs at Homemade Dutch Apple Pie on a variety of topics including digestive issues, OCD, anxiety, infertility, natural parenting and healthy food.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing. It is saddening that natural living can produce such “in the box” thinking. We all need to support each other on our journeys of natural living. On top of that, we need to trust each other in regard to choices made in seeking children. Whether or not someone chooses IVF, it is a very personal decision. As you say, there are some reasons for infertility that cannot be fixed with diet and very little is known about the causation.

    As I struggled with “unexplained” infertility for almost four years, I first tried to fix myself by going all natural with cosmetics, body care products, food, etc. I finally conceived after three IUI tries. However, I found criticism from family members for my “ridiculous” natural and organic choices. They don’t know my path to a natural lifestyle because we chose not to share our infertility struggles with our family for a variety of reasons. Oh how I wish folks could give each other space to make different decisions that are different but not of the moral or salvation type.

    • Yes, we all have to make personal choices. We can’t control our circumstances. But we need to be supportive of others. I hope my story will help others understand this. Thanks for sharing yours.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I am 27 years old and I have been struggling with infertility for the last three years. I found out that I have Hashimoto’s disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and have tried Clomid with no success. When people say, “You’re so young. You have time,” it makes me want to pull my hair out. Why can’t I have babies when other women can?

    I realized that I have my own path to walk. They say that to change a rock to a gem stone it has to undergo great amounts of pressure. And what’s the difference between a rock and a gem stone? Value, preciousness. I am realizing that this “infertility” isn’t a source of shame, but a source of powerful joy. It is making my future child (biological or adopted) a treasure, more precious than he or she will ever know.

    Thank you for all that you have shared with us. Before, detoxing my life was just to help my odds of getting pregnant, but now it is my passion. I am becoming the woman that I’ve always wanted to be and you have been an invauluable help. Blessings to you! And never question your path.

    • Amber,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope your journey leads you to a place of peace, health and the family you desire.

      Infertility is so tough. The comments, etc. from others on top of it is sometimes almost too much to handle. Stay strong. If you have any questions or need to talk more feel free to send me a message. Leave a comment on my blog (link in my bio at the end of the article) and I’ll get back to you with contact info.

      As a side note, I am currently reading Nourished Metabolim by Elizabeth Walling. A wonderful book about healing your body/metabolism and nourishing yourself. I highly recommend it!

  3. Wonderful blog! I found it while surfing around on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?

    I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!
    Appreciate it

  4. Itss such as you read my thoughts! You seem to understand
    a lot approximately this, like you wrote the e-book in it oor something.
    I think that you ccan do with a few p.c. to pressure the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog.
    Afantastic read. I will certainly be back.

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