“What is the essence of a woman?” This is one of the questions the judges asked during the 1994 Miss Universe competition. One contestant, Sushmita Sen, gave such a wonderful answer that she won the Miss Universe title that year. According to her, the essence of a woman is being a mother to a child and teaching him (or her) about sharing, caring and loving. Indeed, one of the main and most important roles of any woman is being a good mother to her children. However, not every woman is blessed with the ability to bear a child.
Pregnancy is one stage in life that almost every woman will undergo. Women, with their unique anatomy and physiology, are naturally built to be capable of producing life. For some reason, however, some women are not able to do this. This situation leads to various negative effects on a woman’s relationship with her partner and her self-concept. In response to this concern, different treatments or medications are already available for women to consider. However, some, if not all, of those treatments have certain disadvantages or side effects.
Based on a discussion about infertility posted at About.com, infertility can be caused by three main reasons. Those involving a woman’s anatomy are classified under structural issues, which can be problems occurring in the fallopian tube, uterus or cervix caused by blockage, fibroid or insufficient opening. Another possible cause concerns the physiology of pregnancy — a bio-mechanical issue. Scar tissues that can cause blockage within the uterus and fallopian tube can hinder a woman from getting pregnant. Finally, infertility can originate from a primary problem with ovulation and is thus called an ovulatory issue. Hormonal abnormalities, the effect of some medications and other health problems can harm the functioning of the ovary and cause ovarian failure.
A woman’s inability to get pregnant can be very stressful not only to herself but also to her partner. Because it is expected of her to bear children, not being able to do so is considered a failure on her part. The pressure imposed on her by her partner and other people may add up to her stress and anxiety. She may start blaming herself for this situation and develop a concept of herself as someone who is “damaged.” Her partner, on the other hand, may feel both disappointed and helpless faced with this problem. The stressfulness of their problem can cause negative changes in their mood and attitude. If the stress and anxiety of having this problem will not be dealt with properly, it can lead to frequent fighting between couples and possibly cause them to separate or divorce.
Despite the initial feeling of helplessness, couples may still find encouragement in seeking possible solutions to a woman’s infertility. Nowadays, medications like clomiphene citrate, follicle- stimulating hormone, and human menopausal gonadotropins are available in the market to stimulate ovulation in a woman. These treatments, however, have potential side effects which include multiple birth incidence, headaches or blurred vision, depression and mood swings, pelvic discomforts and ovarian cysts. Solution for structural and mechanical issues that cause infertility can be resolved mostly through surgery.
Another approach based on oriental medicine is also currently recognized as an effective treatment for female infertility. Methods included under this approach include acupuncture and herbal medicine. The goal of acupuncture is to open the blocked energy that prevents fertilization. This is also believed to help restore the balance among organs especially in the endocrine system. On the other hand some herbal plants when ingested can increase the chances of pregnancy. These forms of treatment, however, can take a long time covering a period of approximately three to twelve months before it can be effective.
With all available options as treatment for infertility nowadays, women may still fulfill their yearning for motherhood. Despite the disadvantages or side effects of some medications, it is through careful consideration that women or couples should decide what to undergo. If, despite all alternatives, pregnancy is still not possible for some women, this does not necessarily mean losing their essence. After all, motherhood is not just attained biologically.