I’m sure this is not an alien statement to many of us. When a man, or woman, expresses their desire to marry into a certain family, this is, ever so often, the reaction from their family. It could be because of tribe…or religion…or social status…or financial capability. But it could also be as a result of the perceived inclination of that family towards infertility.
Those people only give birth to girls oh!
Was what my husband’s father was told, when he told their extended family about me. Whilst I do have quite a large number of male cousins and uncles, the truth is that the number of females on my Mom’s side of the family, totally eclipses the men. So, this sort of lent some credence to this notion. So amused was I when I heard this, that I immediately shared it with my Mom, thinking we would have a good laugh about how ridiculous it was, and move on. Imagine my shock when my Mom almost seemed to agree with this statement.
She proceeded to tell me the story of her paternal grandmother, who had given birth to a large number of boys, before finally having a daughter. But for some reason even my Mom doesn’t seem to know, this daughter was sent to live with other relatives, from a very young age. When the girl’s mother was dying, on her death bed, she lamented all the years spent without this daughter she had longed for…and proceeded to decree that there would never be a scarcity of female children in the family.
Eeeehn?! Tell me something! Of course, I rolled my eyes at such a theory, that it was the ‘blessing’ of a dying woman that firmly engrained the YY chromosome in the offspring of her descendants. But scoff as I might, I couldn’t deny the fact that our family is awash with female children.
But this didn’t bother me at all (still doesn’t). Even if this is really the case, I’m not complaining at all. I have almost been crucified in previous articles, on my stance on gender, but I will reiterate that I do not see any basis for the preference of one over the other…but that’s a story for another day!
Those people don’t give birth to many children oh!
Another observation made by one of my husband’s relatives. Yes, my Mother only had the 2 of us, and her immediate older sister, and also their youngest sister, had just the 1 child each, but her other siblings have been the poster children for fertility, with some having as many as 9 kids! In essence, it was not only a silly comment, it was incredibly flawed and had no basis…in my case. In some other cases, medical conditions, sometimes genetic, can affect the ability to have more children after the first…but we’ll discuss that later in the article.
Those people don’t have children oh!
Sometimes, all it takes is one case of infertility in the family, for people to make that assertion. I have a friend whose maternal Aunt struggled with infertility for years. It didn’t matter that her own mother had been able to give birth to 6 kids, to her potential in-laws, the fact that there was just that one person in the family, was enough of a red flag. To me, this is just borderline illiteracy and paranoia.
Sometimes, this statement is actually correct.
Whether we like to accept it or not, some families are more prone to infertility than others. PCOS is often experienced by more than one woman in a family. Whilst some might have it in varying degrees of low to full blown, sometimes the effect on fertility is pretty much the same. Some might not find themselves annovulatory, and may be able to ovulate without assistance, whilst for others, they might not be so lucky.
With respect to female factor infertility, primarily brought about by family history, PCOS is the most common. Remember that PCOS is a blood sugar condition, which could affect families. I have 2 cousins who have been battling the condition in all its glory. They are sisters, and have spent quite a considerable time TTC. Alas, their family has already been stamped with the identity of not being able to procreate! Talk about hitting you when you’re down.
Other factors that could lead to a family history of infertility could be endometriosis, uterine fibroids, hormonal issues, low sperm count, etc. For male factor infertility, I have read a lot of literature lately that point to the fact that, in cases of male factor infertility, sperm related problems can be passed on to the male children. Thinking about this, I can see the logic in the statement…but I also believe that, even with worst sperm, boys conceived this way also stand a chance.
So…what to do, when these statements and/or words of caution are thrown our way?
First thing’s first is acceptance. No, nobody is suggesting you swallow what they have to say, hook line and sinker? All you have to do is accept that the possibility exists, and maybe plan for it. A lot of times, you might not even have to acknowledge it, as you could find yourself pregnant before you even know it.
But in cases of sperm issues, etc., having this knowledge at the back your mind is key…as it could help you plot your next line of action.
But here’s the thing though. A lot of times, couples with infertility issues often come from big families themselves…so a lot of times, the so-called family history really doesn’t mean a thing.
Food for thought!