Autumn and Infertility: A Match for the Ages

I’ve always felt that having infertility is similar to having cancer. Not in a life-threatening way but certainly in psychological impact. They can both be brutal. But this is autumn, a time of change.

Fallen leaves in fall
The beauty of fall.

Cloudy, Chance of Rain

This first became apparent to me when we showed that infertile men had higher social strain and lower overall and sexual quality of life. Others observed that there’s a higher rate of erection problems, depression, and dysfunctional sexual relationships among male partners of infertile couples. In fact, it’s quite common for infertile men to have problems with sex. It all gets rolled up in a pile of guilt, anxiety, remorse, anger and frustration. And as autumn nears, the holidays are almost upon us.
Recently, an incisive article in The Good Men Project drove home the idea that discussions about having children have no place in unsolicited conversation, either at work or socially. To those with infertility, casual queries like “When are you guys planning on having kids?” are as highly charged as most political conversations nowadays. So, if you’re on the other side, the kid side, be kind to others this holiday season.

Cool and Sunny

Ah, but there’s much more to autumn than holidays. It’s also a stunning season of warm colors, cool winds, crisp air, thick sweaters and soft scarves, rustling leaves, fireplace fires and big orange moons. As I said 9 years ago in these pages:

Why not remember to play when the wind sweeps all the warmth away? Why not take a moment to breath, to just stand and watch the golden light as the days fail sooner, as the birds steer gracefully south? Perhaps playing is exactly what is needed as autumn sets in. Instead of filling the mind’s nooks with obligations, meetings, health care, politics, PTA, financials and homework, take a brief moment to play and delight, like a child with a bright new toy. A perfect time to take play a little more seriously.

Gorgeous Clear Day

And there’s even more to autumn than that. According to science, it’s also the perfect time of year to conceive. It appears that human conception rates are highest when the sun shines 12 hours a day and when temperatures hover between 50 and 70°F. Yes, human fertility is seasonal, with conception peaks occurring in both spring and fall. And that, my friends, means there’s hope. In the words of Bernard Williams:” There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”