April Leite

In our society today, many women are choosing to start their families later in life, while some women are choosing not to have children at all.  The point is, when it comes to deciding whether or not a woman wants to become a mother, she has many choices.  This choice is very personal and the options vary.  For example, sometimes women who choose to start families later in their lifetimes may face the challenge of infertility due to their advanced age.  But if infertility is an issue, women still have options.  For example, they can explore adoption or surrogacy, and many women are turning to fertility drugs and IVF.  IVF, or in vitro fertilization is a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body.  The fertilized egg is then transferred back into the uterus.  IVF treatment certainly has both advantages and disadvantages, but it's been met with success in some cases and has made the dream of motherhood come true for many women.  I personally know half a dozen women who went through IVF treatment in order to become mothers, and their children are now their greatest gifts.

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Unfortunately, there are still those who will criticize women who choose this path to parenthood, saying that if it were meant for them to become pregnant in the first place, then it would have happened naturally.  This, to me, is a ridiculous notion.  It’s sort of like saying when a person becomes ill, if they were meant to heal, the body would do so naturally and therefore they should not be administered antibiotics or receive any medical treatment, etc.  (And yes, I understand that there are some individuals who do subscribe to faith healing.  I am not one of them.)  My point is, as women, we need to respect the choices of our fellow women, work to understand alternative points of view, and offer support rather than criticism.  The road to motherhood is rocky to begin with, and for many women, it’s never easy.  There’s no reason for us to act like speed bumps or barricades to our fellow sisters.  There’s no right way, nor is there just one way, to become a mother.  We must celebrate motherhood in all of its forms and respect the road each individual has chosen to get there.  It is her choice, a personal choice, and it should be respected and celebrated.  

The advantage of IVF treatment is that a couple can use their own DNA to conceive.  For many this is an important factor in the decision to choose IVF.  However, IVF does not guarantee that a couple will conceive.  Some studies have shown success rates as low as 30%, although scientists are continuing their studies and making advances every year while conducting new research.  Another advantage of IVF is that only the healthiest eggs and sperm are selected for fertilization implantation.  Still, there is no guarantee of success.

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There’s no right way, nor is there just one way, to become a mother.

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There are also some disadvantages to IVF.  According to an article on verywell.com,  a study conducted by Dr. Alastair Sutcliffe of Institute of Child Health at University College London fortunately found no increased risk of breast or uterine cancer in women who had undergone IVF treatment; the study did, however, find an increase in the occurrence of ovarian cancer.  This study, which tracked treatment cycles between 1991 and 2010, included over 250,000 British women.  From this sample size, scientists determined that former IVF patients had 15 in 10,000 odds of developing ovarian cancer, compared to non-IVF patients’ odds of 11 in 10,000.  While this increase in the likelihood of cancer seems small, it’s important to identify this risk.  The scientific community notes that IVF treatment itself doesn’t cause this higher chance of developing ovarian cancer; rather, infertility and the fact that IVF patients need the treatment at all are considered the main factors in this increased susceptibility to ovarian cancer.  Moreover, Dr. Sutcliffe’s research also found that the cancer risk was ‘higher in the first three years after treatment.’ 

For some women, these risks and potential complications may be too high for them to consider IVF.  For others, the risks are worth it.

Some women who are unable to conceive naturally or through the aid of science have decided that if they can’t have their own children, they will choose to be childless rather than adopt.  This is not a selfish choice, it is simply a choice—their choice.  Once again, I encourage women not to judge the personal choices of other women.  The choice to conceive or not to conceive, or having the ability to even do so to begin with, does not define us as women.  We are more than just our reproductive organs.  Celebrate womanhood and motherhood, in all of its forms.  Support one another and stay informed on women’s health issues.  Above all, remain compassionate.  By helping women to live their best lives we are helping and healing each other.   

 

April is originally from Massachusetts. She went to Barry University in Miami, where she received a BA in Communications. She started her Master’s in Education at Fort Valley State and finished at the University of Phoenix. April has published two children’s books, has a novel coming out in the spring, owns and operates pupwalks.com, and currently lives in Manhattan with her husband and their two dogs. Learn more about April at apriljean.com!

Comments (2)

  1. April Leite

Thank you so much!

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  1. Meagan Hooper

Well said and well written. Thank you, April! The journey to motherhood is rarely straight!

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