5 Reasons Why Being Young and Infertile is Hard

by Maria Novotny

I met my husband when I was 15 at a “Thanksgiving Day” themed dance. We dated on and off in high school, but I always knew that I would end up marrying him. We would spend hours on the phone in high school, talking about what we wanted from life and how crazy it was that we wanted a lot of the same things. One of those things was a family.


Maria and Kevin on their wedding day. Photo by Sarah Stephens Photography.

After a few more years of dating, he finally moved to the state where I was going to college. We soon got engaged, both graduated, and shortly after got married. Both of us were 23 and ready to start a family. We couldn’t wait. We both came from large families – he was the oldest of 4 and I was the oldest of 6. We moved states, bought a house and started making plans to nest.

But we soon realized these plans were all but a dream. After a year of trying to conceive (TTC), we finally received our infertility diagnosis. I was crushed. He was crushed. How could this be? We were both only 24!

The rest of our twenties were spent going to doctor appointments, researching adoption options, starting an infertility support group, beginning a research on “rhetoric of infertility,” partnering up with the ART of Infertility, and basically deciding that it is okay to wait on building that dream we talked about and hoped for at 23.

On the front stoop of their first home.

On the front stoop of their first home.

Today, as we both embark on entering our thirties, I can’t help but think through the struggle of being under 30 and infertile. Being so young, many people struggle to really comprehend the fact that you can be young, healthy and yet still have trouble conceiving.

Here are the 5 Reasons I think Being Young & Infertile Is Hard (in no particular order):

1. Doctors (& our culture at large) always said that TTC when you are young would only help your chances. Growing up, we are told that we need to protect our fertility. That we need to be careful not to “accidentally” get pregnant. So when you receive an infertility diagnosis, rage –  at the stories we’ve been told to “always use protection”  – can fill your body. “How could I have trouble getting pregnant? I thought I was doing the right thing by trying early?” This confusion, pain and frustration at the perceived “myth of fertility” frequently entered my consciousness when I was diagnosed at 24.

2. I was told that you could (& probably should) plan your pregnancies. I grew up with a bunch of sisters – all of whom are close in age to me. We are each other’s best friends. And so, when I decided to start a family, I wanted to have not just one child but many. I thought by starting young that I could replicate the same type of childhood experiences I shared with my sisters. I could have my first baby at 24 then have the next one at 26 and then the next at 28. A two year gap seemed to make sense to me. But once I realized that I would have trouble even having just one child, I had to completely rethink this plan. I was devastated that I would not have the same type of family unit that I had grown up in.

3. A lot of my girlfriends – were not married – let alone TTC. When we first were TTC, many of my girlfriends were not even in relationships. They were all trying to meet a guy while I was trying to have my ovaries meet some sperm. I felt completely distant and detached from these friends who a few years ago had stood up in my wedding. No one seemed to understand why I was emotional when I saw a mom walking her baby down the street. And they really didn’t understand why I was peeing on ovulation strips every morning. I felt like I wasn’t just losing my hopes for a family, but losing a lot of my close friends.

4. Being Newly Married & Infertile Sucks. When you are recently married, having trouble conceiving puts a lot of pressure on your marriage. Being newlyweds can be hard enough. Put infertility in the mix and it can rock the strong foundation you thought the two of you had. For one, infertility messes up your sex life! Instead of “having fun” with your man, you are creating “sex calendars” and synching your biological schedule to your work schedule. Sex sucks and that never helps any marriage – especially one that is just starting out.

 5. “A baby will come, you just need to relax. You’re not even 30 yet.” Everyone tells you that you have time, to take a vacation, to just enjoy life. Here is the deal – when you want a baby, when you made a commitment in front of hundreds of people that you and your partner are going to have a family, you want that to happen when you want it to happen. You don’t want to wait. You don’t want to let “time” be in control. When you know that you want a family, you want a family – nothing is going to stop you. And so when you realize things beyond your control are impeding your dream, you feel mad, angry and just pissed-off at the world and everyone else who seems to just “magically” get pregnant. You feel like life isn’t fair, and eventually you come to realize that it actually just isn’t fair. Plain and simple – being young and infertile sucks.

Twenty-something and Dealing with Infertility

It’s a common misconception that infertility is only a problem for those who wait too long to try to conceive. Today, we’re sharing portions of just a few of the many stories we’ve collected from those diagnosed with the disease in their 20s. This post does contain an image of babies/parenting.

– Elizabeth

 Natalie and Stephan 

Natalie and Stephan focus their energy on putting puzzles together as a way to keep infertility off their minds.

Natalie and Stephan focus their energy on putting puzzles together as a way to keep infertility off their minds.

What are some of the best ways people supported you during your journey?  One of the most memorable ways people helped support us was fundraising for IVF. We set up one of those health donation websites and had a garage sale. Family members and friends had bake sales, everyone donated items for the garage sale, and even coworkers from family members helped out. It was really really humbling and brought us to tears once to see all the support we were getting.

What is the biggest lesson you learned throughout the journey?

Natalie: “The big ticket question. I think this is what I struggle most with. Figuring out why this is happening, or what I can learn from all of this. Patience definitely, though, I can’t say that is currently my strong suit these days. Over all, I think trying to ‘live in the moment,’ is a big take away. It’s so easy to get swept into ‘what’s next?’ or ‘what should I have done?’ that I lose the now.  I also think I’m gaining perseverance.

Stephan: “I think learning to be more pragmatic is the biggest takeaway from this journey.  I was so expectant with the initial IVF cycle because so much time and money was invested in it that I think we were both extremely disappointed when it wasn’t successful.  Learning to live within the facts and to not speculate has helped save me the disappointment.”

“I felt alone and ashamed to have to go through this at what was then 24.”

Audrey and Chas


Audrey: “One of our biggest challenges was Chas’s anger for not being able to expand our family naturally. During an argument he told me that the reason he was really upset was because we have 2 empty rooms upstairs (we bought a 4 bedroom house in the hopes that they would be filled shortly after we purchased.) I felt alone and ashamed to have to go through this at what was then 24.”

Chas: “This infertility journey is mostly my fault. Not exactly my fault but I’m the one with something wrong. It’s kind of been hard to take. I’ve had my good moments and my bad moments. I’ve had moments where I’ve just blown up and said I can’t do this anymore. Big, huge blow outs. It’s hard when you feel like it’s your fault. I dealt with it on individual terms instead of more of a team effort. When I finally embraced that team effort, everything got a lot better. Although, I still have my days. You just have to go in as a team.”

“The advice I would give to someone who has just been diagnosed with infertility would be, realize it isn’t anyone’s fault. Also, don’t hold it in. Talk to your true friends and let them know that this isn’t something that can just be ‘relaxed’ away, or something you can ‘try harder’ at, this is a real medical problem.”


Megan and Jeremy


Megan: “Through my testing, we found I had a heart shaped uterus, hypothyroidism, PCOS tendencies(but no official change in the labs to get the official PCOS diagnosis), MTHFR, elevated NK cells and cytokines, and blood clotting tendencies/antiphospholipid antibody syndrome that impaired bloodflow to my ovaries and uterus.”

“My RE told me that if my labwork didn’t improve in my next cycle (my FSH just came back extremely elevated while we were planning our 3rd IVF cycle for 2 months later), he wouldn’t let me use my own eggs anymore.  At 28 years old, I took that news really hard.”

“Prior to the IF process, I was completely phobic of needles and there was no way I’d give myself shots.  With the exception of the PIO shots, I gave myself my shots and had IV infusions every 2-4 weeks to prevent my immune system from attacking the babies.  I’d sometimes have to be stuck up to 6 times a day depending on lab work and how easily they’d get the IV.  My desire to have a baby far surpassed my fears.  What other choice did I have? It all seemed small in comparison to not having children.”