The Worst News

The worst news for a woman to hear is that she will never be able to have children.

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Before I watched the episode of Greenleaf where Sophia had a medical emergency which turned out to be Ovarian Torsion, I had no idea that condition even existed.  What is it?  It is a condition which occurs when an ovary twists around the ligaments that hold it in place. This twisting can cut off blood flow to the ovary and Fallopian tube. Ovarian Torsion can cause severe pain and other symptoms because the ovary is not receiving enough blood.

The symptoms are:

  • an adnexal or pelvic mass
  • nausea
  • severe pelvic pain
  • vomiting
  • fever
  • abnormal bleeding

For Sophia, it was a sharp pain in her side.  She first experienced it when she was out jogging then twice on another occasion.  The third time was very severe and she was rushed to the hospital where she was prepped with surgery because she was diagnosed with Ovarian torsion.  While on an anesthetic drug, she was talked about how her boyfriend, Roberto wanted to marry because at lunch he told her that he respected her boundaries and could see a future with her. Before going under, Sophia was dreaming about weddings, houses with mailboxes, puppies, and babies.

In Sophia’s case, the cause of the torsion were two large ovarian cysts interfering with Sophia’s organs. The doctors fixed the problem but couldn’t preserve the ovaries. Sophia will never be able to have kids of her own.  Her mother, Grace had to give her the terrible news which she did.  The scene was heart-wrenching when Sophia broke down and cried.  Grace tried to comfort her telling her that she could have children another way-meaning adoption and said something to the effect that God’s got her back.  Sophia’s response was to wonder why God would let that happen to her.

As with any unexpected and painful life changes, a person’s faith will be tested and Sophia is no different.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Will she turn away from God or will she cling to Him?  And how would her condition affect her relationship with Roberto?  Hopefully, he will stand by her.

My heart ached for Sophia, a young, lovely girl whose dreams of becoming a wife and mother one day were crushed.  How many Sophias are out there living with the painful reality that they will never be able to have kids of their own?  What do you say to someone who found out that she can never have children?  You don’t tell that this was God’s will.  Let God tell her that Himself.  Just tell her that you’re sorry and be there for her.  If she gets angry with God, let her.  He can handle it.  Don’t quote scriptures to her, don’t try to explain why this has happened to her.  Don’t be like Job’s friends.  They were more comforting to him when they were silent.  Just be there for her.

Sometimes, the best way to help someone is just to be near them – Veronica Roth, Divergent

Sources:  Medical News Today; We are the 94 Percent

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Women And Infertility

I was watching General Hospital and one of the characters received the news that she could not have children.  Any child she carried would not be carried to full term.  She would lose the baby.  What heartbreaking news.  It hurts to see women who want to be mothers and who would be great mothers unable to have children while those who are unfit have children.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Lulu, the character wondered why this happened to her since there was no family history of infertility.  Before that she blamed herself for her condition because she had had an abortion when she was a teenager.

I have often wondered why are some women unable to have children or carry them to full term?  There was a time when I was afraid that I would not be able to have children.  In biblical times barren women were looked down upon by other women.  Sarah was despised by her servant Hagar because she was able to conceive while her mistress couldn’t (Genesis 16:4).  Hannah was tormented by Peninnah, her husband’s other wife and rival because the LORD had closed her womb.  She made Hannah’s life a living hell until God blessed Hannah with children.  Rachel rejoiced when she conceived her first child, saying, “God has taken away my reproach” (Genesis 30:23).

In developing countries women face ostracisim and see their infertility as a failing or a curse.  Newsweek ran a story in 2008 about women around the world who are coping with infertility.  One woman was uable to conceive for the first 13 years of her marriage.  She said that people would ask a woman her name—and then, “How many children do you have?” When the woman answered “none”, they don’t know what they can talk to you about.”

It must be so difficult for a woman to be surrounded by family members and friends who have children of their own or to see mothers where ever you go with their children and know that she would never have that experience.  It’s ironic. There are women who can have children but choose not to and there are women who would like to be mothers but are unable to have children.

What causes infertility in women?  Women’s Health Government has a fact sheet which answers these and other questions about infertility.

What is infertility?

Infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older). Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.

Pregnancy is the result of a process that has many steps. To get pregnant:

  • A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
  • The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
  • A man’s sperm must join with (fertilize) the egg along the way.
  • The fertilized egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).

Infertility can happen if there are problems with any of these steps.

Infertility among women is common.  According to  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant.

What causes infertility in women?

Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilized. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.

Ovulation problems are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormone imbalance problem which can interfere with normal ovulation. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is another cause of ovulation problems. POI occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop working normally before she is 40. POI is not the same as early menopause.

Less common causes of fertility problems in women include:

What increases a woman’s risk of infertility?

Many things can change a woman’s ability to have a baby. These include:

Check out the Women’s Health Government fact sheet to find out how age can affect a woman’s ability to have a child; how long a woman should try to get pregnant before consulting a doctor; how a doctor determines if a woman and her partner have fertility problems and treatments.  They also offer more information (links) on infertility that may help you or someone you know who may be having difficulty getting pregnant.

Glen Meade Center for Women’s Health outlines the ways in which women can be tested for infertility:

  • Blood tests to check hormone levels, including progesterone and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Checking morning body temperature to determine if ovaries are releasing eggs
  • Hysterosalpingography (a radiologic assessment of the uterus and fallopian tubes)
  • Pelvic ultrasound
  • Laparoscopy (inspection of pelvic region)
  • Luteinizing hormone uterine test (ovulation prediction)
  • Thyroid function tests

There is hope for women experiencing infertility.  Glen Meade offers the following treatment options depending on the cause of the infertility:

  • Education and counseling
  • Fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF)
  • Medications that treat infections and clotting disorders
  • Medications that help women grow and release eggs from the ovaries

Notes to Women wants to reach out to women facing infertily by encouraging them to read articles from women who are coping with it such as this one.  We hope that the tips for living with infertility will be helpful to you and give you some comfort.

Sources:   http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/infertility.cfmhttp://www.glenmeadehealth.com/ms_infertility.html; http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/09/14/what-it-means-to-be-a-woman.html